Depression is a serious condition that can impact every area of your life. Women are more prone to depression than men, but the causes of female depression and even the pattern of symptoms are often different. Not only that, it can affect your social life, relationships, career and sense of self-worth and purpose. According to the National Mental Health Association, about one in every eight women will develop depression at some point during her lifetime.
The symptoms of depression in women are the same as those for major depression including a depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, the feelings of guilt, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts or recurrent thoughts of death, sleep disturbances, appetite and weight changes, difficulty concentrating and a lack of energy and fatigue
There are many factors like biological, psychological, and social factors that can trigger these symptoms. The biological and hormonal causes of this condition include premenstrual problems, pregnancy, infertility, perimenopause and menopause.
Many new mothers experience the “baby blues” also known as postpartum depression. This is a normal reaction that tends to subside within a few weeks. Certain health conditions such as chronic illness, injury or disability can lead to depression in women, as can crash dieting or quitting smoking. Some of the psychological causes of depression in women include focusing on and rehashing negative feelings and overwhelming stress at work or home. Body image issues increase in girls during puberty and can lead to depression.
Sometimes social causes such as marital or relationship problems caused by balancing the pressures of career and home life, family responsibilities such as caring for children, spouse, or aging parents, experiencing discrimination at work or not reaching important goals, losing or changing a job, retirement, or embarking on military service, persistent money problems and the death of a loved one or other stressful life event leads to depression.
The primary treatment approaches are psychotherapy and anti-depressant therapy. Women are more likely than men to require simultaneous treatment for other conditions such as anxiety disorders and eating disorders.
You can make a huge dent in your depression with simple lifestyle changes: exercising every day, avoiding the urge to isolate, eating healthy food instead of the junk you crave and carving out time for rest and relaxation.
- Exercise – Regular aerobic exercise can reduce the symptoms.
- Dietary modifications – Changes to your diet may help reduce symptoms. Cutting back on salt, fatty foods, caffeine, and alcohol is recommended. Eating plenty of complex carbohydrates is also recommended.
- Nutritional supplements – Vitamin B-6, calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin E benefit women suffering from depression.
- Stress reduction – Relaxation techniques and other strategies to reduce stress may help to reduce the symptoms. Yoga and meditation are particularly effective.
Nutrients in foods support the body’s repair, growth, and wellness. Damaging molecules called free radicals are produced in our bodies during normal body functions and these free radicals contribute to cell damage, aging and dysfunction. Our brain is particularly at risk from free radical damage, we can reduce their destructive effect on the body by eating foods rich in antioxidants as part of a healthy diet, which include Beta-carotene which is found in apricots, broccoli, carrots, Vitamin C in blueberries, broccoli, cherries and lemon and Vitamin E found in nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ. The connection between carbohydrates and mood is linked to the mood-boosting brain chemical, serotonin. Carbohydrate craving may be related to decreased serotonin activity.
So, make smart choices for carbs, limit sugary foods and opt for smart or “complex” carbs (such as whole grains) rather than simple carbs (such as cakes and cookies).