What Is Depression?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that affects appetite, sleeping patterns, concentration and self esteem. Depression affects 1 in 4 women in their lifetime. Depression can be pervasive and persistent but it is treatable!
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling hopeless and overwhelmingly sad
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once found enjoyable
- Changes in appetite—weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting and exercise
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue, heaviness and achy body
- Increase agitation and explosive outburst
- Persistent feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness
- Decreased sex drive and libido
- Thoughts of suicide.
Women are approximately two times more likely than men to suffer from major depression and dysthymia (Research Agenda for Psychosocial and Behavioral Factors in Women’s Health, 1996). Depression has been called the most significant mental health risk for women, especially younger women of childbearing and childrearing age (Glied & Kofman, 1995).
Some social problems attributed to Depression in women are:
- Imbalance in household gender roles – as more women work outside the home the imbalance of household chores may still include women doing the bulk of the household daily chores. This imbalance can increase stress, increase feelings of being generally overwhelmed and burned out.
- Body Hatred- as the pressure increases for women to live up to unrealistic photoshop-ed and silicone images of women in the media more adolescent and young woman are diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder. Body dysmorphic disorder is beyond wishing away your mommy’s kangaroo pouch but includes obsession of one or a few body parts highlighting and dramatizing your body imperfections with mental preoccupations that cause increase negative emotions, avoidance of social situations and lowered self-esteem.
- Career Troubles- Women traditionally have a difficult time negotiating their salary increases and asking for a promotion at work. Women have been socialized to be care takers and often fail to ask for more money as compensation for more work. Women who are stuck in a work environment without proper compensation and career respect may end up feeling invisible, unacknowledged, hopeless and stuck.
If you are experiencing depression consider calling your insurance company for a mental health therapist in network and in your area. You can also find a local therapist on http://www.psychologytoday.com.
You can begin to take a few steps to improve your mood today!
Socialize! We as humans are conditioned to seek connection depression can be lonely and you may want to socially isolate yourself, fight this urge, however, it may mean that you have to force yourself to fight through the sadness, reduced motivation and fatigue to go out. Call a friend or attend a community event that is positive and uplifting. If you have friends that are ‘Debbie Downers’ recognize that you are sensitive to negative influences and purposely stay away from negative friends to reduce your chances of sinking further into depression.
Move your body! At least 30 minutes per day take a stroll in nature, go for a bike ride this will also boost your Vitamin D levels and increase endorphins in the body that are natural mood boosters. If you are not an outdoorsy person consider taking a woman’s zumba or yoga class to also increase a communal connection with other women.
Find your inner calm! Depression can often leave you feeling frantic and chaotic on the insides. Finding calmness inside can seem impossible. You may begin by doing guided meditations to set your intention and focus your emotion on inner tranquility and inner peace. Giving back through volunteering can also add meaning and a sense of connection to community and decrease racing and neurotic thoughts. You can find volunteer organization through http://www.volunteermatch.org. Volunteer match will match you to a cause that you care about.
Remember that depression is winding road and it requires self care, supportive people and a willingness to begin uncovering what lies beneath.
Monique West is the Program Director and Founder of Awaken The Power Therapy in Milford, CT. Monique believes that all the answers for a person to gear their lives in a powerful direction is trapped within them. Monique uses a strength based approach to guide clients to tap into their own inner power. Ms. West has worked as a therapist at America's largest non-profit voluntary mental health organization, Jewish Boards of Family & Children Services (JBFCS) where she has fine-tuned her expertise providing service to families, couples, & children. You can find out more about Monique and Awaken The Power Therapy at www.awakenthepower.org