Why Is Depression More Common Among Women Than Men?

Women experience major depression nearly twice as often as men in the United States for several reasons, but why is this true? Hina Sidhu, MD, and her team at Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center, in Fullerton, California, shed some light on why depression is more common among women than men, and how you can get the help you need.

Could depression be genetic?

Surprisingly, heredity may account for up to 40% of your risk for developing depression as an adult. And, perhaps even more surprising, certain genetic mutations that are associated with whether you develop severe depression occur only in women. So, as a woman from a family with a history of depression, it’s quite possible that you’re genetically predisposed to developing a depressive disorder as an adolescent or adult.

Depression coincides with hormone fluctuations

According to research, another reason depression is more prevalent in women than in men is because women’s hormones fluctuate considerably, especially during their reproductive years. The peak onset of depressive disorders for women occurs between the ages of 25 and 44 — when estrogen and progesterone are in flux. For women, these two hormones change each month during your period, and they can affect the neurotransmitters in your brain that play a role in mood disorders like depression.

Additionally, during and after childbirth, hormonal imbalances can lead to disorders like postpartum depression. Finally, at the opposite end of the spectrum, as you enter perimenopause (the time leading up to menopause), you may experience an increased risk for depression again, especially if you’ve had a history of major depression in your younger years.

Women have a different coping style than men

Starting early in adolescence, girls begin to cope with stress and concerns about life more introspectively than their male counterparts. Studies indicate that overall, women have a more emotionally focused, ruminative coping style, meaning you mull over problems in your mind.

Men, on the other hand, take a problem-focused approach to resolving issues, which tends to be a more distracting coping style that allows them to forget their troubles more easily. This different manner of coping can lead to increased vulnerability and longer episodes of depression for women.

Women are more likely to seek help for depression

Perhaps as a woman, because you’re more likely to consult a doctor and discuss your feelings of depression with a trusted member of the medical community, this influences the number of recorded cases of depression and mood disorders. Because men are less likely to seek a diagnosis, the number of men suffering from depression may be less accurate.

Women live longer than men, too, so it make sense that in old age, you may experience instances of long-term bereavement after the death of a loved one, loneliness, and other life circumstances that may lead to depression in your older years.

Social roles may contribute to depression in women

Even in the 21st century, women face many challenges in society that men do not. If you are a stay-at-home mom, for example, you may feel devalued by society for choosing not to pursue a career while your children are young. Or, if you are in the workforce and have a career outside your home, you’re more likely to face discrimination and job inequalities than men who are doing the same job.

Alternatively, you may feel pressure to “do it all” and be responsible for your family while still pursuing a career. When life’s adverse events happen, women tend to feel responsible for their families and their jobs, and often perceive struggles and difficulties as a reflection of their character. All of these factors can lead to depressive disorders, as well.

Compassionate help is available

Regardless of whether you’re a woman or a man struggling with depression, know that caring, compassionate help is available at Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center. Dr. Sidhu and the highly skilled team of psychiatric professionals are sensitive to your individual needs and provide comprehensive care for those facing emotional difficulties.

Recovery is possible, no matter how challenging it may seem. Find the depression support you need by calling the office to schedule a consultation, or requesting an appointment online.

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