Signs of depression in women are a common mental health complaint regardless of age. And surprisingly, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression as men. But as we’ll see, that doesn’t necessarily mean twice as many women are depressed when compared to men—just that twice as many are diagnosed with a depressive disorder.
Many variables exist that may signal the depression gulf isn’t as wide between men and women as it initially appears. We’ll also explore some understandable reasons women still may experience a greater frequency of depression than men.
Unique Biological Factors Related to Childbirth
When it comes to depression in men vs women, one of the key reasons women have the unique possibility of depression is related to childbirth. This is a substantial concern that men obviously aren’t at risk to experience, which may make women more susceptible to persistent and deep sadness than guys.
Yes, there’s the concern of postpartum depression. But there is also the possibility of depression before and during childbirth and perimenopausal depression leading up to menopause (another potential fertility-related trigger). This doesn’t even account for the intensely painful experience of miscarriage and infant loss, yet another significant possible catalyst for the causes of depression in women.
In his “Psychology Today” article entitled The Seven Reasons Why Depression is More Common in Women, Neel Burton M.D. shares the following:
“Compared to men, women are more subjected to fluctuating hormone levels. This is especially the case around the time of childbirth and menopause, both of which are associated with an increased risk of developing depression.”
Women Are More Prone to Ruminating than Men
Although there are always exceptions, women tend to be more verbal than men. They are generally better at forging close relationships than men too. While these are excellent and healthy strengths, there can also be a downside.
Because women are more verbal, they’re more prone to ruminating than men. In other words, they experience an increased likelihood of dwelling on concerns in their thoughts they can’t change or that trouble them. An added focus on unhelpful or self-defeating thoughts can lead to a greater chance of depression symptoms in women.
One good side of this is that women tend to be more in touch with their emotions than men. This makes them less likely to experience addiction when depressed when compared to men. They are also typically less aggressive or angry when depressed when compared with men.
Women Are More Likely to Seek Professional Help for Depression
Why are women more likely to seek professional help for depression than men? A big part of this is first that women tend to be more in touch with their emotions and mood, as shared earlier. Because of this, they’re typically more skilled at telling when things aren’t right than the typical male.
As a result, women seek help for depression at a higher frequency than men. We can’t be sure of the exact number of men who fail to seek depression treatment when they should. But this tells us there may not be twice as many depressed women out there as men. Instead, there could be a lot of men out there who should be receiving treatment for depression but aren’t getting the help they need.
So, part of this discrepancy is because women tend to better recognize when depression is a problem. But sadly, there is still this stigma in many cultures that look down on men for admitting they have depression. There’s this notion that men are supposed to be strong and that sharing they have depression makes them “weak.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
It takes far more courage to admit when there’s a problem and seek help than to cover your sadness up, pretending everything is fine when it’s not. So, this could be yet another reason why women are diagnosed at a higher rate than men. There may be this unwritten cultural rule that it is more acceptable for women to initiate treatment for depression than it is for men. Again, this is likely another reason women are so over-represented regarding depression diagnoses.
It is also believed that practitioners, regardless of gender, are typically more prone to diagnose women with depression than men. Again, unknowingly, cultural appropriateness may sometimes affect diagnostic decisions. However, it could also be that women tend to have more of the “textbook” depressive symptoms than some men.
If a woman is regularly sad, a resulting depression diagnosis wouldn’t be too surprising. But what if a male is regularly angry or dependent on drugs and alcohol? In that case, depression may not be as heavily considered as sometimes it should be. So, as you can see, the difference between the number of depressed men versus women may not be as vast as the statistics show.
Women Face Burdens that Are Hard for One Person to Bear
A crushing number of responsibilities are too often placed on women. Yes, there’s the career to chase in many cases. But there’s also this idea that women should bear the brunt of keeping up a house and raising children. All of this added stress leads to an increased risk of depression in moms. Yes, women tend to be more nurturing towards children than men. However, they are only one person.
All of that burden of responsibilities over time can lead to burnout, disillusionment, anxiety and depression in mothers. Women may wrestle with depression at a higher rate because one human being can only do so much in a day. Many women feel like they are “always on the clock” and that eventually takes its toll.
Depression in Women: Considering Depression Therapy Can Help
As you can see, many complex factors exist that explain why women may struggle with depression. We really only scratched the surface here. However, one thing is clear: you shouldn’t have to suffer alone with sadness and depression. If you or someone close to you is struggling with what you believe to be depression, The Relationship Centre can assist you.
You are welcome to reach out to us with any questions. You also can book an appointment with us.