More threads by HA


Depression has many different faces:

After 10 years of working for a company she loved, Kim was laid off. She never saw it coming. Kim is a single mother raising two kids. She has been looking for work for about eight months now. Since losing her job, she?s felt like a failure -- worthless. Kim is up all night, and she never feels like eating much. She yells at her kids often.

Rose used to be an active senior citizen. Since retiring, Rose and her husband have traveled a lot -- Europe, Australia, South Africa -- they have been everywhere. Rose?s husband died last year of a heart attack. She has been in mourning for a year. She rarely gets out, and she doesn?t accept visitors into her home.

Many of Julie?s family members have suffered with depression. But nobody ever talks about it. Julie has been dealing with depression since she was a teen. She is now 46. She has tried to kill herself twice. Julie has never been in counseling. ?What is wrong with me?? She always asks herself. She just can?t seem to ?shake it off.?

You probably know women with stories like these. Women are more likely to get depressed than men. They suffer at nearly twice the rate of men. Girls 14 to18 years of age have higher rates of depression than boys in this age group. That being said, depression is not a ?normal part of being a woman? nor is it a ?female weakness.?

Are you suffering from depression?

Life is full of ups and downs. But when the down times last for weeks or months at a time or keep you from living "normal," you may be suffering from depression. Depression is a medical illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things.

It is different from feeling "blue" or down for a few hours or a couple of days. It is not a condition that can be willed or wished away.

What causes depression?

There is no single cause of depression. There are many reasons why a woman may become depressed:
  • Hormonal factors - menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarriage, postpartum period, perimenopause, and menopause
  • Stress - at work and home, single parenthood, caring for children and for aging parents
  • Family history - inherited (it's in your genes); it can also occur in people with no family history
  • Medical illness - stroke, heart attack, cancer
  • Chemical imbalance - changes in the brain chemistry

What are the signs of depression?

Not all people with depression have the same symptoms. Some people might only have a few, and others a lot. If you have one or more of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks or months at a time, see your doctor.

  1. Feeling sad, anxious, or "empty"
  2. Feeling hopeless
  3. Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed
  4. Decreased energy
  5. Difficulty staying focused, remembering, making decisions
  6. Sleeplessness, early morning awakening, or oversleeping and not wanting to get up
  7. No desire to eat and weight loss or eating to "feel better" and weight gain
  8. Thoughts of hurting yourself
  9. Thoughts of death or suicide
  10. Easily annoyed, bothered, or angered
  11. Constant physical symptoms that do not get better with treatment, such as headaches, upset stomach, and pain that doesn't go away
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