Depression symptoms in women vary by age and other factors. Here is what you need to know about how depression affects women at various stages of life.
Beginning at puberty and progressing through young adulthood, girls are a bundle of hormones and physical bodily changes. They are preparing to become women and to bear children. These changes are often overwhelming for a young girl.
Add to these physical changes the feelings of awkwardness, competition with other girls for attention, peer pressure, and sudden sexual sensations that they aren’t mature enough to handle yet, and the result can be overwhelming. Some girls may become depressed. Some signs that parents and other concerned adults can look for include:
- Weight gain or loss
- Changes in school performance, such as not doing homework or earning uncharacteristically poor grades
- Sudden changes in behavior, such as isolating themselves from friends and family
- Physical changes, such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa
For women in their 20s through their 40s, several life events can result in depression. As with young girls, hormones often do play a part. For example, pregnancy or even early menopause can cause hormonal instabilities.
Women tend to exhibit more emotional than physical symptoms of depression. During this stage of life, it is not unusual for women to show some of these signs individually. Depression is suspected if a woman presents a combination of several symptoms for a prolonged period. These symptoms include:
- Neglect of a spouse, children, pets, elderly parents, or others who depend on the woman for assistance
- Disinterest in sexual activity
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- No interest in maintaining the physical appearance
- Mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Sudden negative attitude and complaining
- Lack of self-esteem
- Loss of interest in work or hobbies.
Finally, the signs of depression in women over 50 are related to post-menopausal hormones, aging, and overall diminished health.
The hormonal shift experienced during menopause can cause depression, especially as women come to terms with the reality that they can no longer bear children. Also, some hormone replacement therapies have depressive side effects.
Additional life-changing events, such as losing parents, a spouse, or lifelong friends, physical illnesses or hospitalizations, and financial difficulties can contribute to depression. Again, any of the following behaviors alone do not explicitly indicate depression. In some instances, they can be symptomatic of other issues, such as dementia. However, in general, signs of depression in senior women include:
- Difficulty making decisions yet feeling resentful when others make decisions for them
- Frustration over memory loss
- Lack of motivation
- No desire to participate in social activities
- Unwillingness to communicate
- Poor hygiene
Ultimately, if you are feeling sad, guilty, tired, hopeless, or just plain blue, you could be experiencing depression. There is hope because there are treatment options available.