Depression is so common, it’s often misunderstood by the general public and misdiagnosed by doctors. For example, it’s possible to feel depressed but not have depression. In reality, depression is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. Without treatment, depression can cause various physical and emotional problems that make it difficult to function in everyday life.
Both men and women can suffer from depression, but the disorder is more than twice as likely to affect women. Depression also has different contributing factors for women than for men, so it’s important to consider gender when administering treatment.
La Ventana specializes in integrative treatment for mental health disorders like depression. We provide a safe, supportive environment where clients can explore their inner selves, accept their pasts and move forward with the proper coping skills. Below is more information about depression and our approach to treating the disorder.
What Causes Depression in Women
Women are at an increased risk for depression because of unique genetic, hormonal, psychological and social factors. For instance, women have a tendency to be emotional and rehash negative thoughts. Women are also more likely to have negative body image and low self-esteem.
When working with females with depression, we find that several factors are at play.
- Biology. Depression runs in some families. This tells us that some genetic makeups are more prone to depression.
- Psychology. Women are more likely to develop depression from psychological issues like low self-esteem or stress.
- Social. It’s more common for women to be depressed from relationship problems, work-life balance issues, financial difficulties and stressful experiences.
How Depression is Different from Grief
One of the most difficult aspects of depression is that it’s often confused for sadness. Everyone feels sad from time to time, especially when dealing with big life changes like death, divorce or the loss of a job. But being sad is not the same as being depressed.
Grieving is a natural response to certain situations, and people are unique in how they go through the process. At times, sadness and depression share some of the features. But there are clear differences between the two. Here are some ways that depression is different from sadness.
- A grieving person will have waves of sadness, but there are times when they feel joy and happiness. A person with depression is in a regular state of sadness for at least two weeks.
- A person who is grieving will feel sad, but their self-esteem remains intact. For a person with depression, self-esteem and self-worth are often compromised. They tend to feel worthless and hopeless.
- It’s possible for a person to have both grief and depression. When these two conditions co-exist, the symptoms are intensified. The grief tends to be more severe and persist longer.
Different Types of Depression
Depression comes in different forms. The treatment for most forms of depression will be similar, but it’s important to recognize what type of depression the person has. At La Ventana, these are the most common types of depression we treat.
- Major depression. People who feel depressed most days of the week may be diagnosed with major depressive disorder. The symptoms must go on for two weeks or more and include a depressed mood and a loss of interest in activities.
- Persistent depressive disorder. With this disorder, people experience feelings of depression for two years or longer. It’s not as severe as major depression, but the persistence can make it exhausting.
- Bipolar disorder. Someone with bipolar disorder has strong mood swings. They will feel euphoric during their high times and depressed during their low times. These mood swings can last for days or weeks and include suicidal thoughts.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a period of depression that happens during the winter months when the days grow short and there is less sunlight. Symptoms usually go away when springtime hits. Antidepressants can help, as well as light box therapy.
Depression Types Unique to Women
There are also certain types of depression that are unique to women. Pregnancy, the postpartum period, perimenopause and the menstrual cycle all bring on physical and hormonal changes that can impact the brain.
- Perinatal depression. Perinatal depression can occur during or after pregnancy (postpartum). It’s much more serious than the “baby blues.” The good news is that it tends to go away once the mother starts caring for her newborn.
- Perimenopausal depression. Perimenopause is the transition into menopause. It can be physically and emotionally challenging. Women with perimenopausal depression often experience irritability, anxiety and sadness.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is a more serious version of PMS. Women with PMDD may have suicidal thoughts, depressed mood, sadness or irritability at the start of their period. The symptoms go away once the period starts but reoccur every month.
Treatment for Depression
Most people who have depression need treatment to feel better. This is why it’s important to identify the signs of depression and the need for treatment. Going undiagnosed and undertreated can have dire consequences. With a combination of medication and psychotherapy, more than 80 percent of people get better.
At La Ventana, we recognize that each person is different and uniquely affected by depression. Our treatment process starts with an assessment. This allows us to properly diagnose the client, rule out other underlying health conditions and create an individualized treatment plan. If you or a loved one has depression along with another mental health disorder, such as anxiety, PTSD or substance abuse, we can treat all issues simultaneously.
Women with depression respond well to treatment. The most effective forms of treatment include talk therapy and antidepressants. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common form of talk therapy, and it teaches clients new ways of thinking and coping with stressful events. CBT also helps women understand difficult relationships and how to improve them.
Clinical depression is a highly treatable illness. You do not have to go through the motions of your days without enjoyment. Contact La Ventana to learn more about our specialized treatment programs for women suffering from depression.