Why Is Depression More Common in Women?

Why Is Depression More Common in Women?Women experience depression more often than men. There are many reasons for the higher rate of depression in women, including fluctuating hormone levels and stresses involving work and parenting. Many single parents are women, and the stress of having to do it all alone can be overwhelming. Generally speaking, women internalize stress whereas men externalize it; in other words, a man who is stressed will get angry and vent his rage, while a woman may hold stress in and blame herself for her problems.

Statistics of Depression in Women

The National Institute of Mental Health has published the following statistics concerning depression in women:

  • Depression is the most common reason for disability in women
  • Twice as many women suffer depression as do men
  • 25% of women will experience major depression at some point in their lives
  • Depression is more common among married women than among single women, and is especially common in young mothers who stay at home with young children
  • There is a strong correlation between depression and eating disorders, and 90% of those who suffer from an eating disorder are women
  • Women who suffer from physical or sexual abuse are at greatly increased risk of experiencing depression
  • 80% of women who suffer from depression do not receive treatment for it
  • Experiencing depression puts a person at greatly increased risk of suicide. Twice as many women as men attempt suicide, although more men than women die from suicide.

These issues can greatly damage women, so get help today if you deal at all with depression.

Factors that Contribute to Depression in Women

Factors that may contribute to stress in women include the following:

  • Genetic history—a family history of depression means that a woman is at increased risk for suffering depression
  • Rates of depression are particularly high among women who describe themselves as unhappily married
  • The menstrual cycle—changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle can contribute to depression. Also, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) has been linked to depression, and some women experience a particularly severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
  • Post-partum depression. Many women experience the blues after childbirth, but for some women postpartum depression reaches levels that qualify as major depression or even psychotic depression. Women with a history of depression are more likely to experience severe depression post-partum.
  • The demands of parenting make it easy for young and single mothers to have depression
  • Sexual abuse—women who were raped, assaulted sexually, sexually harassed at the work place or molested as children are at increased risk of suffering depression
  • Death of spouse—more than 30% of women and men who are widowed meet the criteria for major depression in the first month after the death of their spouses. 50% of these remain depressed a year later.
  • Stressful events are a major cause of stress in both women and men

Some women have an increased risk for depression as they go through menopause, but in general women are at decreased risk for depression following menopause.

Treatment for Depression

Counseling effectively helps women cope with factors that cause depression. Those who suffer from serious, chronic, unrelenting depression should seek a psychiatric evaluation to determine the causes. If you would like help finding treatment for depression, or if you simply have questions about depression and treatment, please call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline today.