Depression is a common mood disorder that interferes with a person’s behavior, feelings and thoughts. It is a depressive disorder that leads to sudden loss of interests and a persistent feeling of sadness and hopelessness. To some extent, depression may interfere with one’s daily activities and may make one feel that live is not worth living.
However, women have increased chances of suffering from this condition as compared to men. In fact, this difference in depression rate has been observed in many countries around the world. This has been attributed to many factors such as biological factors e.g. pregnancy and infertility, postpartum period, menopause and premenstrual effects, psychological factors e.g. stress at work or home, negative feelings, body image changes. Social factors include lack of money, discrimination at work or school, death of a loved one etc
The signs and symptoms of depression range from mild to severe. The degree of seriousness can be measured by the effect they have on a woman’s body. Major symptoms include:
1. Lack of energy and fatigue
A depressed woman normally suffers from excessive tiredness, loss of energy and general body weakness. She cannot handle even the smallest household chores such as washing, cooking, and dressing.
2. Depressed mood
In most cases, the patient experiences very sad and low moments that bring the feelings of emptiness and hopelessness. To a certain extent, she appears tearful. Most depressed patients with low moods tend to isolate themselves from their friends and relatives.
3. Significant loss of weight
There is a sudden and continuous loss of weight due to decrease or increase of appetite. In extreme conditions, the patient may lose or gain up to 5 percent of total body weight in a span of one month. This fluctuation is dangerous and does not obey the rules of healthy living. It may lead to increase in blood sugar.
4. Recurrent thoughts of death
In most cases, the patient has too many thoughts of death and may even attempt to commit suicide caused by feeling of worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness.
5. Insomnia and hypersomnia
The patient eventually develops abnormal sleeping patterns. Insomnia leads to difficulties or inability to sleep and at times the patient suffers early morning awakening. In a case of hypersomnia, the patient will sleep nearly the whole day for prolonged periods.
6. Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and worthlessness
In most cases, the patient develops inappropriate and excessive self-pity, guilt and helplessness especially if they recount on unsuccessful past events. This may result in many suicidal attempts.
7. Loss of interest
The patient will eventually have diminished or no pleasure at all in most activities and personal hobbies that she enjoyed doing such as sports, hiking, walking, skating, swimming etc. She will not have an interest in attending social places such as family gatherings, wedding occasions, birthday parties etc.
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8. Psychomotor agitation
The patient becomes restless and at times she develops an inability to sit.She cannot wear or remove clothes on her own. She may also become retarded e.g. talking quietly and to herself or have a very slowed speech in most cases.
In most cases, the patient becomes easily agitated, upset or frustrated over petty issues or no issue at all. To some extent, she may become very violent to people around her regardless of whether they are close family members or friends.
10. Lack of concentration
This is associated with loss of memory where the patient becomes very forgetful even when very simple instructions are given. She becomes very poor in decision-making. Children with this condition perform very poorly in school. Once this problem is identified, the remedy should be administered as soon as possible.
No matter how serious the signs of depression are, the good thing is that depression is curable. Depression can be cured through psychotherapy i.e. talking to the doctor about personal issues affecting the patient or through proper medication. Women should not suffer in silence. Once diagnosed with these symptoms, action should be taken to tackle the problem as soon as possible. Also, extensive awareness should be created that will provide enough information on factors that cause depression in women and how to cope with them. We can also reduce the risks of depression by practicing the right lifestyle changes for a healthy living such as eating a well-balanced diet, minimizing junks, exercising regularly, adequate rest and relaxation, avoiding isolation, forgiving others, getting plenty of sunlight, reading articles and books, adopting a positive gratitude behavior, avoiding processed foods, eating healthy fats such as nuts, sleeping for 7-9 hours daily and taking herbal medicines for depression.