Causes of depression in women – 2: Psychological factors

Women are more likely to develop depression, a common but serious mental health problem that alters the way one thinks and behaves in day-to-day life. They are almost twice at the risk of having depression than men, especially during childbearing and childrearing age. Nearly 12 percent women are believed to experience clinical depression at some stage in their lives and about one in 10 women suffer from postpartum depression or “baby blues,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Past research has shown that young girls are more prone to depressive tendencies than boys. The high prevalence of depression in women may be attributed to displaying more sensitivity to interpersonal relationships and tendency to get stressed frequently. Moreover, some specific types of depression-related illnesses, such as postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and postmenopausal depression and anxiety increase women’s vulnerability to depression.

Depression in women remains misdiagnosed in approximately 30-50 percent cases, with around 70 percent women receiving prescriptions for antidepressants without proper diagnosis and monitoring. Psychological factors affect women more than men, as women tend to be more emotional and more likely to ruminate or entertain negative thoughts during depressive episodes.

Psychological triggers for depression in women

While there may be many specific causes for women to experience depressive symptoms, these common triggers affect most of the women.

  • Overwhelming stress at home, work or school: Stress has been found to have an adverse effect on women’s mental health increasing the risk of depression. It is further elevated by the way their bodies respond to stress. Women’s physiological system produces more stress hormones than men do. Further, the female sex hormone progesterone interferes with stress hormone system and prevents it from turning it off automatically, as it happens in men.
  • Body image issues: The pressure to look attractive begins from adolescence and continues well into adulthood. Scientists attribute this to the onset of puberty when hormonal changes take place and women experience a number of emotions and moods. In a bid to get that perfect shape, women often indulge in dieting and shrink from binge eating fearing that they would become fat. Women who are negative about their bodies may develop low self-esteem, feeling of inferiority and low satisfaction in life, which may increase their risk for developing depression, anxiety or eating disorders.
  • Focusing on and persisting with negative feelings: According to studies, women’s tendency to ruminate more than men increase their likelihood of developing depression. Rumination refers to paying repetitive and passive attention to symptoms of distress and looking to find the causes and possible consequences of these symptoms. Researchers suggest, “…rumination enhances the effects of depressed mood on thinking, impairs effective problem solving, interferes with instrumental behavior, and erodes social support, the initial symptoms of depression among people who chronically ruminate are likely to become more severe and evolve into episodes of major depression and rumination may prolong current depressive episodes.”

Coping with depression

Some simple lifestyle changes including regular exercising, eating healthy food, getting adequate rest, and socializing may help improve the quality of life while having a positive impact on treatment outcomes. However, depression is a serious mental health problem, which requires medical help to address the underlying problem and help a person gain control of his/her life.

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, the Texas Depression Treatment Help is an important resource that can provide effective information about depression treatment centers in Texas and best treatment alternatives. You can chat online with experts or call our 24/7 helpline 866-827-0282 for instant assistance.

Read the other articles in the series “Causes of depression in women:”

  1. Genes