Depression in Women

Depression is also known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) or clinical depression. It is due to a disorder of the mood that often causes feeling of sadness, loneliness, and lack of interest. Untreated symptoms can lead to emotional and physical problems which may interfere with normal functioning, daily routine, and develop feeling of hopelessness.

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Pathophysiology
There is no unique or true causes associated with depression. However, scientists believe that it is due to chemical imbalance ( neurotransmitters’ functions), physical changes in the brain (ex: Traumatic Brain Injury), hormones imbalance or changes, sudden change in lifestyle, environment and life stressors.

Risk factors
Genetic predisposition, sexual orientation, substance abuse, previous history of mental illness, traumatic events, chronic & terminal illness, body image and some medications such as, sleeping aids and blood pressure pills. ( please discuss your medications with your doctor)

Symptoms
Sadness, hopelessness, unworthiness, lack of interest, withdrawal, angry, mood changes, sleep disturbance, anxiety, agitation, disturbed thought process, poor judgment, unjustified headaches and persistent pain.

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Population
Depression is very common among teen girls and women due to normal body changes and life situations. Teen girls often show lack of interest in school and activities. They also have poor attendance, lack of commitment, sad feeling, body weight issue, eating problem, trouble making or keeping friends and poor performance in school.

If untreated, teens might become a danger to self and others. They might become violent with active suicidal ideation. Some of them might cut themselves or become addicted to illegal substances or engage in dangerous activities. Scientists have associated bullying to depression in teens.

Women
Most women demonstrate signs of anger, fatigue, lack of interest in intimate relationships, poor judgment, poor leadership at home and lack of family engagement and minimal interaction with their children. Depression is also very common following birth due to sudden life changes of caring for self and newborn. Those women also show lack of interest in caring for their newborn. They feel overwhelmed, agitated and make poor decision. Failure to identify the early signs of postpartum depression can lead to adverse outcome or death. ( Andrea P. Yates family tragedy in Texas- mother killed all five of her children while husband was away)

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Treatment & Recommendations
See your doctor and discuss symptoms immediately. Tell a friend or someone you trust. If you observe the signs in people around you, please persuade them to seek medical assistance. Follow treatment team’s recommendations and complete treatment in its entirety even when symptoms improve. 

Conclusion

As a nurse, I am always grateful for my health because I have the privilege to care for teens and adults with depression, and it is very sad sometimes to observe what patients and their health care partners have to cope with. It is very complex to manage young girls and women who struggle with depression. Parents, please observe your children’s behaviors and initiate open discussion to promote trust and comfort. Do not be judgmental because depression can happen to anyone. If you can’t provide your assistance, it’s better to let someone else support the person. Remember, depression is a condition not an illness, so people are able to live their normal life while under treatment. The condition becomes worrisome, when symptoms interfere with normal functioning.

Sophia Georges, MSN,RN

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