According to the World Health Organisation, 350 million people around the world suffer from depression. Women are two times more likely to develop clinical depression than men, And, according to the National Mental Health Organisation, 1 in 8 women likely to experience depression at one point in their lives. Depression is a worldwide problem and it affects women in particular.
Depression is not one thing, is will be felt differently by every affected individual. Different people will also experience it according to different degrees of severity. Depression can be mild, moderate or a severe clinical disorder. If you believe you are suffering from depression, talk to a psychotherapist for professional help and advice.
Further, for many who are living with or who experience it, depression’s symptoms can become a sort of catch-22. This is because you will feel the need to do something to feel better but don’t have the energy to do anything, thus making you feel worse. As such, depression can be very challenging to emerge from. The following are nine common symptoms of depression in women:
1. Feeling “empty”
A persistent mood of “emptiness” is a common symptom of depression. This may mean literally feeling empty. It could also mean feeling helpless, guilty or/and hopeless. Some sadness is normal and not a symptom of depression, but with depression this sadness becomes all-encompassing. It hangs over you and gets in the way of every aspect of your day to day life.
2. Loss of interest
A loss of interest in a wide array of things such as day-to-day activities, sex, those around you is another common symptom of depression. The clinical term for this is Anhedonia and is used to refer to when people stop experiencing pleasure or gain less pleasure from the activities that they once enjoyed. It is one of the many catch-22s of depression.
Engaging in activities that you once enjoyed should be a way of making yourself feel better, but the depression stops you from being able to cure yourself in this way.
Another common symptom and one of the many catch-22s of depression. Partaking in social activities may feel like too much and push women to isolate themselves. This will result in a feeling of loneliness. The problem is that even though you feel lonely, you cannot get yourself to partake in social activities, as these feel too overwhelming.
It is also tied into the loss of interest that often accompanies depression: you may be experiencing a loss of interest in activities that would normally place you in social contexts. As such, loss of interest may also increase loneliness and may lead to the common symptoms of depression in women.
You are very irritable. This means that you are feeling nervous, anxious, crying excessively and it just generally seems like anything can set you off. This may include anxiety. Anxiety is not the same as simply being nervous. And it is different from the anxiety that you might feel about a test. This anxiety is about obsessing over small things to the point of making you feel worse about yourself and making it difficult to navigate the world.
5. Changing sleep patterns
There seems to be a connection between people’s sleep patterns and their moods. This is a phenomenon that applies outside of depression as well. If your sleep pattern is the only thing changing then you may not have depression. Changing sleep patterns signifies the common symptoms of depression in women. This can mean either sleeping too much or sleeping too little.
6. Weight loss or gain
Depending on the individual they may experience loss of appetite or they may begin to overeat. For those you experience a loss of appetite, the symptom is related to other symptoms such as a loss of interest. This lack of motivation may also include that directed at food. Or, on the opposite end, some people begin to overeat. Eating to make themselves feel better, due to a lack of motivation to stay healthy, etc…
A lack of energy, is in fact one of the most common symptoms of depression. Why? Because of neurotransmitters in our brains. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible, amongst many things, for the production of feelings of happiness. Serotonin is also related to the production of the neurotransmitter epinephrine.
Epinephrine is responsible for the production of the feeling of energy. In studies regarding clinical depression (severe depression) it has been found that reduced levels of serotonin are produced by the brain. Because of the connection between the two neurotransmitters, it means that both the production of feelings of happiness and of energy are suppressed. This explains the feeling of fatigue that is so common in depression.
8. Suicide thoughts or attempts
Some sufferers of depression may feel so isolated and have lost so much interest that they no longer desire to live, and begin to think about ending their own lives. If you feel this way, reach out! Contact your doctor, contact a helpline, contact a friend. This is a symptom of very serious depression and there are many resources out there to help.
9. Physical symptoms
Depression may also be felt physically (the mind and body are connected after all). These include: headaches, chronic pain, digestive disorders, cramps, breast tenderness. These symptoms may also occur due to other conditions though, so on their own they are not a good indicator of depression.