Depression in Women in America Today

There is an extremely high rate of depression in women in America today. Societal influences, biological factors, lack of education, and lack of treatment all are big factors in contributing to this problem. Women are disproportionately affected by depression when compared to men. I think this issue is a very predominant problem in our society, even through things I see here at USC and in my dorm. This is a problem that needs to be addressed by educating the public and making more women aware of ways to get help.

Evidence from people who don’t believe that depression is a major problem regarding women’s health: Many people believe that women do not experience depression or do not need help with depression because it is normal for women, or that it just PMS or a natural part of being a woman. Many people believe that the depression is short term emotions and that most women don’t need to seek help with this. According to a National Mental Health Association survey on public attitudes and beliefs about clinical depression:

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· More than one-half of women believe it is “normal” for a woman to be depressed during menopause and that treatment is not necessary. · More than one-half of women believe depression is a “normal part of aging. ” · More than one-half believe it is normal for a mother to feel depressed for at least two weeks after giving birth. · More than one-half of women cited denial as a barrier to treatment while 41% of women surveyed cited embarrassment or shame as barriers to treatment. · In general, over one-half of the women said they think they “know” more about depression than men do. (Lebeinlluft)

Evidence that There is a Problem: Clinical depression affects twice as many women as men, both in the U. S. and in many societies around the world. It is estimated that one out of every seven women will suffer from depression in their lifetime. Additionally, women experience higher rates of seasonal affective disorder and dysthymia (chronic depression). Major depression and dysthymia affect twice as many women as men. This two-to-one ratio exists regardless of racial and ethnic background or economic status. The same ratio has been reported in eleven other countries all over the world.

Men and women have about the same rate of bipolar disorder (manic depression), though its course in women typically has more depressive and fewer manic episodes. Also, a greater number of women have the rapid cycling form of bipolar disorder, which may be more resistant to standard treatments. www. psychologyinfo. com Many factors unique to women are suspected to play a role in developing depression. Research is focused on understanding these factors, including reproductive, hormonal, genetic or other biological factors; abuse and oppression; interpersonal factors; and certain psychological and personality characteristics.

But, the specific causes of depression in women remain unclear. Many factors in women may contribute to depression, such as developmental, reproductive, hormonal, genetic and other biological differences (e. g. premenstrual syndrome, childbirth, infertility and menopause). Social factors may also lead to higher rates of clinical depression among women, including stress from work, family responsibilities, the roles and expectations of women and increased rates of sexual abuse and poverty. (www. nami.

com/helpline/women) Epidemiological studies indicate that 12 percent of U. S. women–compared with only 6 percent of U. S. men–have suffered from clinically significant depression at some time in their lives. (Leibenluft) Symptoms may include feeling sad, crying a lot, losing interest in your usual activities, feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless, sleeping too much, or not being able to go to sleep, losing your appetite or eating too much, feeling very tired, and having trouble paying attention and making decisions.

Other revelent facts regarding women and depreesion include the fact that twenty to forty percent of women may experience premenstrual syndrome and an estimated 3 to 5 percent have symptoms severe enough to be classified as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). (www. psychologyinfo. com) Also, though men are more likely than women to die by suicide, women report attempting suicide approximately twice as often as men.

In 1990 the World Health Organization found depression to be the leading cause of “disease burden” (a composite measure including both illness and death) among women, noting that it affects almost 20 percent of the female population in the developed world. It now appears, however, that estrogen might set the stage for depression indirectly by priming the body’s stress response. (www. womenhealth. com) Women have a higher one-year prevalence of the illness, may experience longer episodes, and have a lower rate of spontaneous remission than men.

Older women are also more likely to have recurrent depressive episodes than older men. Women are two to three times more likely to develop double depression (clinical depression and chronic depression together). (www. womenhealth. com) Although men and women exhibit similar symptoms of depression, women report more atypical symptoms including anxiety, somatization (the physical expression of mental processes such as aches and pains with no physiological cause), increases in weight and appetite, oversleeping, and expressed anger and hostility. Depression in women is misdiagnosed approximately 30 to 50 percent of the time.

Fewer than half of the women who experience clinical depression will ever seek care. Fortunately, clinical depression is a very treatable illness. More than 80 percent of people with depression can be treated successfully with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. It is important for women to increase their awareness of what is already known about depression, so that they seek early and appropriate treatment. Conclusions and possible solutions: The evidence shows that depression is a major health issue in America, most importantly in regards to women’s health.

There has been a great deal of research performed on this area by several different professional health organizations, universities, doctors, and other experts. The results of the studies and research prove that this is a major health problem and I feel it needs to be addressed. The main questions that come from this is “How can we help make people aware, both men and women? ” “Is there a way we can educate younger women in order to prevent a problem as they grow older? ” “How can society help middle-aged women who are suffering and make them aware they need help?

” “Will it help to educate men as well? ” These are really tough questions to answer. I think we can begin to solve some problems educating the general public through more TV public service announcements, more access to care, insurance covering prescriptions for antidepressants, and more education on how to deal with depression. It is also important to start providing help to adolescent girls at school through counselors and promoting positive self image. Also incorporating this health issue into the health curriculum by teaching students what depression is, how to recognize it and what you can do.