Women are from Venus; Men are from Mars – so they say. But what they don’t tell you is that Mars is a much happier planet.
Not only are women more susceptible to depression, the causes of their depression and its patterns and symptoms are often unique to their sex.
According to the National Mental Health Association, the ratio of depression in women vs. men is about two to one. Approximately one in every eight women will develop ongoing clinical depression at some point during her lifetime.
The contributing factors to depression in women are many. Because women, as opposed to men, are blessed with reproductive hormones, any imbalance in those hormones can cause unexpected bouts of depression. Combined with the hormonal influence in women, are the social and psychological pressures on women to live up to society’s ideal of the perfect woman, both physically and emotionally.
Depression can affect every area of your life: your social life, relationships, career, your self-esteem and sense of purpose are only a few of those areas. And when you think that women are twice as affected by depression as men, it’s a daunting realization. However, depression is treatable, and the more you understand about depression’s particular implications for and impact on women, the more equipped you will be to tackle the condition head on.
There are general signs and symptoms of depression that occur in both men and women. If you are experiencing any of the following on a recurring basis, you are suffering from depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Although men and women share the same signs and symptoms of depression, as already noted, women tend to suffer certain symptoms more often and more severely. And their reaction to depression is often quite different.
Women tend to suffer atypical depression, going against the norm – instead of sleeping and eating less, women, as a rule, eat and sleep more. Women try to make sense of their depression, going over and over things in their minds, while their male counterparts simply resort to diversion tactics.
Differences between male and female depression
Women tend to:
Men tend to:
|Blame themselves||Blame others|
|Feel sad, apathetic, and worthless||Feel angry, irritable, and ego inflated|
|Feel anxious and scared||Feel suspicious and guarded|
|Avoid conflicts at all costs||Create conflicts|
|Feel slowed down and nervous||Feel restless and agitated|
|Have trouble setting boundaries||Need to feel in control at all costs|
|Find it easy to talk about self-doubt and despair||Find it “weak” to admit self-doubt or despair|
|Use food, friends, and “love” to self-medicate||Use alcohol, TV, sports, and sex to self-medicate|
|Adapted from: Male Menopause by Jed Diamond|
Dealing with Depression
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.
Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day and draw on the support of others.
- Talk about your feelings to someone you trust. Share what you’re going through with the people you love and trust. Ask for the help and support you need. You may have retreated from your most treasured relationships, but they can get you through this tough time.
- Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. When you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell. But being around other people will make you feel less depressed.
- Get up and moving. Studies show that regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication at increasing energy levels and decreasing feelings of fatigue. You don’t have to hit the gym. A 30-minute walk each day will give you a much-needed boost.
- Aim for 8 hours of sleep. Depression typically involves sleep problems. Whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits.
- Expose yourself to a little sunlight every day. Lack of sunlight can make depression worse. Make sure you’re getting enough. Take a short walk outdoors, have your coffee outside, enjoy an al fresco meal, people-watch on a park bench, or sit out in the garden.
- Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.
So, it seems that women get a raw deal when it comes to depression. Not so, according to the universal Laws of Nature. As Dr. John Demartini notes in his book “The Breakthrough Experience – A Revolutionary New Approach to Personal Transformation,” the universe is always in perfect balance and operating under very specific laws to ensure the maintenance of this balance. Additionally, humans also follow these same laws, often without their awareness.