Depression in Women and Girls – Causes, Risk Factors

Women suffer from unipolar (as opposed to bipolar or manic) depression in greater numbers than men do; twice as much by most estimates. Three times as many teenage girls as boys report having experienced an episode of major depression.

Causes

The reason or reasons why women have unipolar depression more frequently than men is less definite, due to a great extent to the fact that we don’t fully understand what causes depression, whether in men or women. Depression is a highly individual disease. Each case is different. One person’s depression may be wholly chemical, while someone else’s is brought on by events and stressful factors in her life. Yet another person may suffer depression due to a combination of chemical and environmental factors.

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Celiac Disease in Women Linked to Depression Risk

HealthDay News — New research shows that women with celiac disease face a higher risk for also suffering from depression and so-called "disordered eating," regardless of whether they stick to a gluten-free diet."We found that most [study] participants frequently adhered to a gluten-free diet, and this greater compliance with diet was related to increased vitality, lower stress, decreased depressive symptoms and greater overall emotional health," study co-author Josh Smyth, a professor of bio-behavioral health and medicine at Penn State University, said in a university news release."However, even those people who were managing their illness very well reported higher rates of stress, depression and a range of issues clustered around body image, weight and shape when compared to the general population," he added.The study results appear online and in an upcoming issue of Chronic Illness.

via Celiac Disease in Women Linked to Depression Risk.

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Light therapy may help depression in pregnancy | Reuters

(Reuters Health) – Light therapy may improve symptoms in pregnant women with depression, suggests a new study of 27 women in Switzerland.

While the study was small, the findings are promising for doctors who have been hesitant to treat with antidepressants out of fear that the drugs might harm the fetus.

On the other hand, some worry that untreated depression during pregnancy could also lead to birth complications, said Dr. C. Neill Epperson, who heads the Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness in Philadelphia and was not involved in the current study.

“A lot of people feel like they’re in between a rock and a hard place,” she told Reuters Health.

via Light therapy may help depression in pregnancy | Reuters.

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Postpartum Depression

Breakfast in Bed by Mary Cassatt

Postpartum depression is the cruelest form of depression, coming when it does. Your most joyful (albeit totally sleep-deprived) time becomes your most torturous. After I had my son, I was certainly sleep deprived, but my overwhelming emotion was wonder and absolute content. My parents told me that I was a natural mother. Certainly taking care of my son came much more easily than I had expected, and I had less self-doubt than I had anticipated.

Of course, with my history of depression, I went back on antidepressants right away (I decided not to breastfeed, since I also had to immediately start taking the medication for my Multiple Sclerosis again). I didn’t want to lose one minute of my time with my son to depression, and I knew that a mother’s depression could affect her infant. Luckily, I didn’t have one moment of postpartum depression. I didn’t even suffer from the “baby blues,” a milder form of postpartum depression, that usually starts a few days after the birth. The baby blues generally lasts less than 2 weeks, and is thought to be caused by the hormonal change and loss of endorphins after the birth.

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