“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.” – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Depression. The word itself is like exhaling loudly and finding yourself still full of spent air. So many have tried to capture its essence in words – tried to explain it through books, movies, music, and unrelenting screams and tears. But in the end, there are no words that scratch the surface of how all-encompassing severe depression can be; it is something that can only be felt.
While there are many symptoms of depression that are nearly universal for women, men, and children, we wanted to take some time to focus particularly on symptoms of depression in women. Studies have shown that “women are about twice as likely as men to develop major depression,” making it important to be mindful of the way depression may manifest itself for you personally, or women in your life.
In this piece, we won’t focus much on why depression affects women more often than men. That answer is many-faceted, and is fueled by biological, psychological, and sociocultural reasons. As a patient at Bridges to Recovery, those reasons will all be thoroughly explored on both an individual and group basis with your clinical team. But before we get to that “why” we want to focus on the “what” – more specifically, what are the symptoms of depression in women that we should all look for in ourselves, friends, and family members? Let’s look at some of the most common symptoms…
Persistent sadness, anxiety, or a feeling of emptiness, or disconnect. This is not to be confused with temporary, situational anxiety that is in direct response to something specific, or feeling sad about an unfortunate event. Sadness and anxiousness are normal human responses to specific situations and events. It is when they become pervasive and life-altering that they deserve attention.
Sleep Issues. These can present as excessive sleeping, or sleeping too little. Do you find yourself letting days slip away while you lay in bed? Do you have difficulty staying asleep? Or conversely, do you find yourself shortchanging yourself on sleep to mindlessly watch television, surf the internet, or perform any number of tasks that can wait until tomorrow, or don’t need doing at all? Depression may be the underlying issue.
Trouble concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions. Are the days when you could focus, easily recall things, and quickly come to a decision almost difficult to remember? Depression can rob you of those things that were once second-nature. You don’t have to accept this as a normal part of aging, or write it off as “having a lot going on right now.” These are symptoms of depression in women that are seen for weeks, months, or years, and are often disregarded. While misplacing your keys or having trouble choosing between chicken or fish for dinner is normal, when these symptoms are present in many areas of your life, depression may be the culprit.
Appetite Issues. These can present as a lack of appetite that results in weight loss, or a seemingly insatiable appetite that results in weight gain.
Decreased energy, sluggishness and excessive fatigue. Do you constantly feel like you’re walking uphill through mud? Do you feel tired no matter how much sleep you get? Do you find yourself dozing off the second you sit down after work? These can all be symptoms of depression in women.
Persistent negative thoughts. At their worst, these thoughts include feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, guilt, and/or lack of worth. But they can also present themselves as a general negativity that is out of character for you. Do you find yourself focusing on the worst in everything and everyone?
Ongoing physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, or don’t seem to have a physical cause. While physical symptoms may very well have a physical cause, for some, there is also a chance they are a result of what’s going on mentally. Common physical symptoms of depression in women include headaches, digestive issues, achiness, and chronic pain.
Lack of interest or enjoyment in previously-enjoyed activities. Do you find yourself dreading things that were once a source of fun and relaxation? Do you cringe when a friend asks you to go to a movie, out for dinner, or on a shopping trip? Has your interest in physical affection and sex all but disappeared? Depression may be the root cause.
Thoughts of death or suicide. While all symptoms of depression are worth discussing as soon as possible with a medical professional, if you are experiencing persistent thoughts of death or suicide, please consider it an emergency situation and seek help immediately.
Are the above symptoms of depression in women among those you or someone close to you is experiencing? Please know that living this way is not only unhealthy, but also unnecessary.
At Bridges to Recovery, we will help you back on the path to a rich, fulfilling life in which you feel truly present, engaged, and excited. Our compassionate, knowledgeable team is available to answer any questions you may have about our services, facility, and philosophy. Contact us today.
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