Actress Taraji P. Henson once said, “Every human walks around with a certain kind of sadness. They may not wear it on their sleeves, but it’s there if you look deep.” We can all relate to her words, whether we’re sitting with the fresh sorrow of a recent loss or experience a flash of past sadness triggered by a sound, sight or smell.
Sadness is a normal part of life. Most often the blues eventually leave with a bit of time, and a nudge or two. But depression is different.
Depression is a medical condition that affects how you think, feel and function. It affects your day to day activities and respects few boundaries—depression can disturb you at work, at home, it can disrupt your sleep and eating habits, etc.
Research shows that depression is reported more frequently by women than men, and this is often attributed to the biological, hormonal and social factors that women experience (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-in-women/index.shtml#pub5).
In fact, several types of depression are unique to women because they are linked to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, the postpartum period, and perimenopause. Each of these states is characterized by intense hormonal as well as physical changes.
For starters, let’s take a look at premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is not the same as premenstrual syndrome or “PMS.” Most of us use the term PMS to refer to the irritability and moodiness we experience prior to our period, and these feelings are very common.
In contrast, PMDD is less common and the symptoms are much more severe.
Symptoms of PMDD can include moodiness and irritability, but the degree of mood disruption is disabling. In addition to anger, PMDD sufferers may experience suicidal thoughts as well as joint or muscle pain, appetite changes, bloating, and breast tenderness.
If you’ve ever been pregnant you know that pregnancy can bring a roller coaster of mood swings. Changes in reproductive hormones can cause mood disorders, and some women are at greater risk than others for developing these.
The terms perinatal and postpartum depression are used to distinguish the depression women experience when pregnant and after giving birth.
Postpartum depression is more than the “baby blues” a description many women use to refer to how they feel after giving birth. Many new moms use this term to refer to the mood swings, fatigue, worry and unhappiness that can accompany post-pregnancy.
The baby blues usually involve mild, short-term symptoms that fade as life after baby becomes the new normal.
In contrast, new moms with postpartum depression find their global functioning affected in an extreme way due to severe feelings of exhaustion, anxiety and sadness. These states can make it difficult or impossible to properly care for yourself and your baby.
On the other end of the continuum and many years down the road, some women may find themselves experiencing perimenopausal depression.
Perimenopause is the phase which occurs prior to menopause.
During perimenopause the world might seem a bit upside down and unpredictable! This is because menstruation becomes irregular and common symptoms during this period include mood swings, hot flashes and sleep disruption. Anxiety, irritability, loss of enjoyment or sadness can also occur.
While sadness may be a part of perimenopause mood swings, depression during this time shouldn’t be considered normal. Like the other types of depression described above, perimenopause depression is a condition which should be addressed with a mental health professional.
While each type of depression described above can affect a woman at different points in her life, depression affects every woman differently.
And while Taraji P. Henson astutely noted that sadness is a normal part of our existence here on earth, depression is more than sadness, it is a serious mood disorder that can alter your ability to study, work, eat, sleep and enjoy life in general.
Interestingly enough, some depressed individuals do not feel sad. Instead, they report symptoms that revolve around physical ailments such as headaches, digestive problems, constant fatigue or general aches or pains.
Here is a list of common depression symptoms:
- Diminished energy or fatigue
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or helplessness
- Continually feeling anxious, sad, or having no feelings
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
- Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feelings of restlessness
- Sleep issues including early-morning waking, or oversleeping
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that have no obvious physical cause
- Lack of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Difficulty making decisions, concentrating or remembering
- Change in appetite and/or weight change
If you or someone you know has experienced any of the above signs and symptoms for at least two weeks, it may be an indicator that you are suffering from depression.
The origins of depression continue to be researched but most experts agree that it is caused by a combination of factors: biology, genetics, psychological makeup and the environment. What we do know is that the majority of individuals with depression need treatment in order to feel and function better.
In other words, depression is not a situation from which you can snap out of, as many well-intentioned loved ones believe, and it is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw.
Not every female will experience depression in her lifetime and among those who do, the severity of symptoms vary along a continuum. This is why there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment, and patience is needed if a bit of trial and error is required to find the treatment that works best for you.
But the takeaway to remember is that depression, even severe depression, can be treated.
Lifelong recovery is possible: all you need to do is reach out. Starbent Recovery was founded on the belief that people suffering from addictive disorders, trauma, and other co-occurring issues can thrive in the right environment.
Our professional, dedicated staff have the understanding, experience, and compassion necessary to support each resident’s clinical treatment team goals. We offer individualized tier level programs, and guidance with residents’ personal recovery and independent living goals.
Our safe, peer residence offers luxury amenities and is located in the heart of upscale Tribeca close to multiple subway lines and surrounded by trendy dining and shopping.
To learn more about our premier women’s recovery residence, call us at (800) 673-0176.