Women and Depression
Life is full of ups and downs. But when the downs last for weeks or months at a time, or keep you from living your regular life, this may be an indication that there is an underlying imbalance that needs to be addressed more closely.
Depression involves the body, mood and thoughts, and it affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about life.
It’s also a gender thing: women in North America are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. Approximately 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year. It occurs most frequently in women aged 25 to 44.
There is often no single cause of depression, but is a multitude of factors which include:
- Hormonal imbalances– menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, low thyroid, miscarriage, postpartum, peri-menopause and menopause
- Stress and adrenal function – Stressful life events such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a bad relationship, work, caring for children and aging parents
- Medical illness – Dealing with serious medical illnesses like stroke, heart attack, or cancer
- Environmental Toxins – Heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, and aluminum) as well as pesticides, formaldehydes and benzenes have an affinity for nervous tissue, where they are particularly damaging.
Menopause and Depression
More than one-half of women believe it is “normal” for a woman to be depressed during menopause, and that treatment is not necessary.
The Massachusetts Women’s Health Study observed that the rate of depression begins to decrease as women move from peri- to post menopause, and is lowest for those women who have been postmenopausal for at least 27 months. These results show that depression is moderately associated with peri-menopause and that the depression is transient and will decline about two years after menopause.
Hormone fluctuations can be quite extreme during peri-menopause and cause much stress on the body and thus the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands also become the main hormone producers when a woman’s ovaries shut down during menopause and therefore even more important to support adrenal function during this transition or well before the hormone highs and lows begin.
PMS and Depression
As many as 90% of all women will have to deal with PMS at some time during their reproductive years, while 30% to 40% of all women will have symptoms distressing enough to interfere with their everyday lives.
There are some 150 symptoms that have been assigned to PMS, most commonly: anxiety, tension, irritability/anger, depression, and headaches.
It is highly probable that an imbalance, involving the interaction of hormones, nutrients and neurotransmitters (serotonin), and liver health combined with stress will influence how women adapt to support a healthy mood through major hormonal fluctuations.
This hitting close to home?
Think you might be experiencing depression? Check out these lifestyle factors, and stay tuned for key supplementation that may help you. But first and foremost: visit your ND or MD.