Women and depression

For women, depression is a relatively common problem. One in six of us will experience depression during our lives. This means that even if you’re not affected, it’s likely to have been a problem for someone you know.   As women, we’re more likely than men to experience the type of depression where we sleep more than usual to retreat from the world and turn to food for comfort. We’re also more likely to feel guilty and blame ourselves for being depressed.

Why is depression so common in women?

One reason why women struggle more with depression than men is that when we are faced with difficulty and emotional pain we are socialised not to display anger, not to make a fuss. We therefore tend to turn our pain inward. We blame ourselves, withdraw from others and become self-critical. These are key ingredients for depression.
Him: What’s the matter with you? Me: Nothing. “Nothing” was slowly clotting my arteries. Nothing slowly numbing my soul. Caught by nothing, saying nothing, nothingness becomes me. When I am nothing they will say, surprised in the way that they are forever surprised, “but there was nothing the matter with her.”Jeanette Winterson, 'Gut Symmetries'
Another complicating factor for women is the way hormones can affect mood. Changes in levels of estrogen, progesterone and cortisol can have a significant impact on how women feel emotionally. This means that body changes that affect hormones (such as pregnancy, menstruation and menopause) can effect our mood and result in feelings of depression.

Things you can do

  • The first and most important step involves recognising that perhaps things aren’t right and that you need help.
  • Talk to the people in your life and seek help and support. Sometimes you might also need to tell them how to support you and what kind of help you need.
  • Talk with your GP about what you’ve been experiencing. They may want to investigate the possible medical reasons behind your low mood, such as hormonal or thyroid problems.
  • Exercise, diet, sleep, alcohol. These are all factors that can really affect how you feel and can be a good place to start making changes.
  • Talk to a psychologist. We have a range of strategies and techniques that can help. Find out  more about therapy here.


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