Women and Mental Health
Good mental health is crucial to overall well-being. According to the Office on Women’s Health , more than 1 in 5 women in the United States experienced a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety in the past year. In addition, many mental health conditions, such as depression and bipolar disorder, affect more women than men or affect women in different ways from men. Most serious mental health conditions cannot be cured. But they can be treated in a Women’s depression treatment center, so you can get better and live well. Mental health treatment centers provide professional therapy and related medical services such as residential treatment for depression and dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.
There are also certain types of disorders that are unique to women. For instance, some women may experience mental health disorders at times of hormone change, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, perinatal depression, and perimenopause-related depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health , women may experience schizophrenia and bipolar disorders differently – specific symptoms may be more common in women than in men, and the course of the illness can be influenced by the sex of the person.
Depression is a common and serious illness. A CDC study  shows that about 1 in 10 women in the United States reported symptoms that suggest they experienced an episode of major depressive disorder (MDD) in 2021. Using the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), CDC research shows about 1 in 8 women with a recent live birth experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Estimates of women affected by postpartum depression differ by age, race/ethnicity, and state. Various effective depression treatments, such as PPD treatment, Major depressive disorder treatment, and severe depression treatment can be very effective but vary depending on the depressive disorder, from moderate to severe.
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Depression Signs in Women
Understanding what is considered “normal” mental health can be difficult. When does “just feeling sad” become depression, which is a serious condition? A mental health professional can help you figure out whether you have a mental health condition. If you do, treatment can help you feel better. People can and do recover from mental health conditions.
Depression signs in women may include:
- A lack of interest in things that you used to enjoy
- Crying spells
- Lack of motivation
- Inability to concentrate
- Significant changes in your eating or sleeping patterns
- An inability to cope with problems or daily activities
- More anxiety than usual over events or situations
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Sudden changes in your personality for no reason
- An inability to stop thinking about certain ideas or memories
- Sadness for longer than two weeks
- Thoughts about suicide (call 911 if you are in immediate danger)
- Drug or alcohol abuse or illegal use of prescription drugs
- Extreme mood swings
- Violent behavior or a lot of anger or hostility
- Hearing voices or seeing things that other people don’t hear or see
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Symptoms of Depression in Women
The early symptoms of depression in women can go unrecognized. However, it can help to know which symptoms of depression in women might show up first:
It is the feelings of worthlessness and even self-hatred that can be typical first symptoms of depression in women, You may also feel a sense of guilt that’s unfit for the situation you’re in.
Many women report a loss of motivation or interest related to activities they used to enjoy. This could look like less interest in reading when you’re usually an avid reader or a lingering lack of motivation at a job you’re usually passionate about.
Sleep Problems and Fatigue
Getting enough sleep can feel like an uphill struggle. But if your habits haven’t changed and you’re experiencing a sudden and overwhelming lack of energy, you may be experiencing an early symptom of depression.
Although anxiety disorder isn’t the same as depression, it can occur alongside a depressive episode. These symptoms of depression in women could mean you’re also experiencing depression:
- Feeling tense
- Feelings of danger, dread, and panic
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Increased or heavy sweating
- Trembling and muscle twitching
- Difficulty focusing or thinking clearly about anything except what’s making you anxious
Appetite and Weight Changes
Especially for women, changes in appetite and weight can present when you experience a depressive episode. You may experience an increase in appetite and, with it, an increase in weight. You might also experience a decrease in appetite and weight.
Mood changes that come with depression can be severe and tend to involve painful emotions like anger or sadness. You might have outbursts of anger followed by crying and deep sadness. If you don’t usually experience these mood changes, depression could be one reason they’ve started.
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Depression in Men vs Women
The major differing characteristics of depression that commonly appear in women vs. men are listed below:
|Depression in Women||Depression in Men|
|Depression is 1.5-3 times more common in women than in men||Depression is 1.5-3 times more common in women than men.|
|Gender-Specific Causes for Depression|
Fluctuating Hormone levels
• Pregnancy and labor
• Birth control/ hormone replacement therapy side effects
|Overall Depression Pattern|
• Higher rates of seasonal depression.
• Higher rates of atypical depression patterns emphasizing excess, with symptoms of depression in women, like hypersomnia, increased eating, and weight gain.
|Common Emotional Symptoms|
• Anhedonia (inability to feel joy)
• Mood swings
|Common Cognitive Symptoms|
• Sense of control
|• Excessive alcohol/drug use|
• Risky behavior
• Suicide completion
|Common Behavioral Symptoms|
• Anhedonia (inability to feel joy)
• Mood swings
|Common Physical Symptoms|
• Breast tenderness
• Physically weak/exhausted
|• Chest tightness.|
• Erectile and other sexual dysfunction issues
• Digestive issues
• Heart palpitations
• Low testosterone
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Which Gender is More Depressed
Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. Depression can happen at any age. Some mood changes and depressed feelings arise during normal hormonal changes. However, hormonal changes alone don’t cause depression. Other biological factors, inherited traits, and personal life events and incidents are associated with a higher risk of depression.
Here’s what contributes to depression in women.
Hormone changes during puberty may increase some girls’ risk of developing depression. However, temporary mood swings related to fluctuating hormones during puberty are normal — these changes alone don’t cause depression.
For most females with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), symptoms such as breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, anxiety, headache, irritability, and experiencing the blues are minor and short-lived.
Dramatic hormonal changes happen during pregnancy, and these can affect mood. Other issues also may increase the risk of depression during pregnancy or during attempts to become pregnant.
Many new mothers find themselves angry, sad, and irritable and experience crying spells soon after giving birth. These feelings — sometimes called the baby blues — are normal and generally subside within a week or two. But more serious or long-lasting depressed feelings may indicate postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a severe medical condition requiring prompt treatment. It occurs in about 10 to 15 percent of women.
Perimenopause and Menopause
The risk of depression may increase during the transition to menopause, a stage called perimenopause, when hormone levels might fluctuate erratically. Depression risk may also rise during early menopause or after menopause — both times when estrogen levels are significantly reduced.
Gender Differences in Depression
According to the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI), the gender difference in depression – generally believed to be twice as many females experiencing major depression as males – represents a significant health disparity. Compared with men, female accounts for a more substantial proportion of patients with depression. Behavioral genetics researchers find gender differences in the genetic underpinnings of depression.
According to research, gender differences exist in heritability and the gene associated with depression. Both genes and gene-environment interactions contribute to the risk of depression in a gender-specific manner. Although depression might seem overwhelming, there’s an effective treatment. Even severe depression can often be successfully treated.
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Women’s Depression Residential Treatment
Mental health as a general topic, particularly in mental health hospitals and treatment such as going to therapy or taking antidepressants, has long been stigmatized. Fortunately, more and more individuals are talking openly about mental health – driven in particular by younger generations’ openness to the topic. This was true before the pandemic, but the strain on almost everyone’s mental health by COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the subject. More and more campaigns have decided to tackle the stigma against mental health, particularly for men.
Although both women and men may experience any or all of the symptoms mentioned above when struggling with depression, women often experience symptoms differently or for different reasons. Women may experience depression at more intense rates due to social expectations or norms placed on women. Women often express emotions differently than men. This is also evident when women experience depression. Instead of acting outwardly, which is sometimes seen with men struggling with depression, women are more likely to exhibit sadness, turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms (such as substance abuse and depression comorbidity), or blame themselves for the circumstances that led to their depression.
Seeking help to overcome depression is the safest and most effective way to learn how to manage and reduce the intensity of symptoms of depression in women. At a women’s depression treatment center, the treatment programs are geared specifically towards the unique treatment needs of women seeking to overcome depression. At a women’s depression treatment center, the treatment staff is trained in addressing the unique nature of depression as it affects women. At a women-focused depression treatment center, you can expect to receive caring, supportive, compassionate care.
Psychotherapy for Women
Psychotherapy may be used alone in women with mild to moderate depression, or it may be used adjunctively with antidepressant drug therapy. Women who have severe depression accompanied by active suicidal thoughts or plans should usually be managed in conjunction with a psychiatrist. Although the same diagnostic criteria are used for both genders, the presentation and course of depression are sometimes different in women.
Psychosocial therapies should address issues affecting women, such as competing roles and conflicts. Commonly used treatments include psychotherapy to correct interpersonal conflicts and to help women develop interpersonal skills; cognitive-behavioral therapy to correct negative thinking and associated behavior; and couples therapy to reduce marital conflicts. In patients with mild to moderate depression, psychosocial therapies may be used alone for a limited period, or they may be used in conjunction with antidepressant medication.
CBT for Women
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most evidence-based psychological interventions for the treatment of several psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, somatoform disorder, and substance use disorder. The uses are recently extended to psychotic disorders, behavioral medicine, marital discord, stressful life situations, and many other clinical conditions.
Evidence also suggests that relapse rate of patient treated with CBT is lower in comparison to the patients treated with pharmacotherapy alone. Treatment guidelines for the depression suggest that psychological interventions are effective and acceptable strategy for treatment. The psychological interventions are most commonly used for mild-to-moderate depressive episodes.
Women’s Depression Treatment Center Near Me
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is often accompanied by substance abuse or dependence. The mental health field has long discussed whether these conditions are independently occurring disorders or are overlapping illnesses intertwined by common etiologic and vulnerability factors. The initial presentation of depression can be obscured by the overriding symptoms of depression in women or side effects of a substance use disorder (SUD).
In the general population, the prevalence of a current substance use disorder in persons with Major depressive disorder (MDD) ranges from 8.5 to 21.4%, with a lifetime prevalence of comorbid SUDs ranging from 27 to 40% . Co-occurring depression has an adverse effect on the course of SUDs. Current depression predicted poorer treatment response and higher rates of relapse.
People who suffer from depression can experience severe sadness that lasts weeks or even months at a time. It’s common for those battling mental illness to also struggle with substance abuse. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine which condition came first. People with prolonged periods of profound sadness may reach for drugs or alcohol to ease the pain, feelings, and other symptoms of depression in women.
However, substance use can make depression symptoms of depression in women more severe. Clinical depression alone increases the risk of accidental injury, suicide, and other forms of self-harm. Add in drugs or alcohol, and the threats to the person’s mental and physical health can be extreme.
To determine the most effective ways to treat depression and substance abuse comorbidity, it’s crucial first to get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms of depression in women. When the symptoms of depression in women have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment.
Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.”
- Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
The first step in treatment is medical detox. It will help you navigate the complicated withdrawal process but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to substance abuse. Treatment approaches such as detoxing while pregnant can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after completing detox.
Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment and depression rehab help prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the emotional effects of alcohol withdrawals.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment and Depression Treatment
Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.
Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for mental health and substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. Can you take Xanax while pregnant? During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction.
If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term drug abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition such as depression, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up can provide information on dual diagnosis and medical detox programs that may fit your specific needs.
 NIMH – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/women-and-mental-healt
 OASH – https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health
 CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/index.htm
 WHO – https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/66539
 PTSD Symptoms In Women – We Level Up NJ Rehab Detox Center
 Effective Gender-Specific Treatment For Substance Abuse (welevelupfl.com)
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