4 Key Factors Why Women Experience Depression More than Men

New research indicates brain chemicals may contribute to different moods in men and women. The role of these neurotransmitters helps explain why more women experience depression than men. When women become depressed, they may turn to prescription drugs such as tramadol to self-medicate painful emotions. Learn why women may be more susceptible to depression than men and how to find effective treatment.

Women and Depression

While everyone has brief periods of sadness, clinical depression is defined by a period of sadness and hopelessness that lasts for weeks at a time, according to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH). A person with major depression experiences symptoms that affect all aspects of daily life: work, sleep, eating, and ability to feel joy. Individuals may also experience less severe symptoms from minor depression. Dysthymic disorder includes symptoms that last for two years or more, but also are less severe than major depression symptoms. People with depression experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious or guilty
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering details
  • Trouble sleeping and/or sleeping too much
  • No appetite or inability to stop eating
  • Suicidal thoughts, attempts
  • Unexplained aches or pains (headaches, cramps or digestive problems)

Women are more than twice as likely to experience depression than men, according to WebMD. The changes a woman experiences throughout her lifetime may explain the greater risk.

  1. Hormone Differences

Before puberty a female has the same chance of developing depression as a male, but after puberty females are more likely to develop the disease until they go through menopause, according to the Mayo Clinic. This association between female hormones and depression indicates certain stages of development intensify a woman’s response to emotions. A woman has a higher chance of developing depression during the initial stages of puberty, during pregnancy, in the months after giving birth and during the transition to menopause.

  1. Brain Differences

One study on the way women respond to emotions indicates they are more likely to look inward to manage feelings vs. men who are more likely to examine what’s going on outside the body, according to a LiveScience article. The study focused on the amygdala, a cluster of neurons that controls fear and aggression. Brain scans indicated the amygdala in a woman is more likely to communicate with areas of the brain that regulate hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and respiration. This research and other studies that show a difference in the brains of women and men could help explain how women process emotions differently and respond to stress in their environments.

  1. Social Status Differences

There are several social situations that increase a woman’s risk for depression. While men also face these cultural stressors, they occur at a lower rate, according to the Mayo Clinic. For example, women are more likely to live in poverty than men. Worries about having enough resources along with limited access to community and health care resources increase a woman’s feelings of negativity and lower self-esteem. Another factor that can lead to depression is increased workload. Many women work outside the home and also handle various domestic responsibilities. These may include caring for children at the same time as sick or older family members or caring for children as a single parent while working multiple jobs. The added burden of dealing with so many responsibilities also can lead to depression.

  1. Sexual Abuse or Trauma

Women are more likely than men to be survivors of physical, sexual or emotional abuse and women who are abused as children or adults have a higher risk of developing depression. One study of women with depression found that 55% had a history of physical abuse and 15% reported abuse during the year of the study, according to an article in the Journal of Internal General Medicine. Women with a history of abuse are more likely to receive general medical care than mental health care, so these women were also more likely to go without any treatment for depression.

In addition, women with depression are more likely to suffer with additional mental health problems, including anxiety, anorexia, bulimia and addiction.

Need Help Finding Treatment for Depression?

If you are looking for an evidence-based mental health treatment program, our admissions counselors can suggest many options. The first steps toward recovery are made by reaching out for help and finding the most supportive people to guide the way.

If you or a loved one needs help finding treatment for depression and/or addiction to a drug like tramadol, our admission coordinators are standing by with information about the most appropriate treatment facilities. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week for guidance on the best steps toward treatment. Don’t wait any longer to lead a healthy life; call today.