Treatment of Depression in Women: How and Why It Differs?

Treatment of depression in women follows the same path of as that treating depression in general. But, a woman is more susceptible to going into depression and the reasons and treatment options are explained below.

Causes of depression, in general also need to be taken into account but as mentioned in the earlier posts on female depression and its causes, hormonal imbalances during the various stages of a woman’s life do carry a higher risk of depression in the woman, and therefore, special treatment considerations have to be taken into account.

This makes the woman more susceptible to getting depressed. Statistics declare that women are twice more prone to developing depression than men.

Secondly, along with depression, women are more prone to other conditions, which co-develop such as anxiety, eating disorders and alcohol abuse or substance abuse, which also require treatment.

Why do women get depression?

The various stages in a woman’s life, which can trigger a depression disorder, are explained below and the treating doctor does try to find out what has triggered and made the woman go into the depressive mindset.

  • Puberty
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Menstruation cycle
  • Oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Post pregnancy period which can cause postpartum depression
  • Approaching menopause
  • Work pressures
  • The stress of family pressures and responsibilities.

A proper history taken elicits information by which the doctor is able to carry out a medical assessment and identify the risk factor and is then able to chalk out a line of treatment for the depressed woman.

Women metabolize drugs differently than men and therefore, doses of antidepressants are usually lower, but it is necessary to keep a keen watch on the side effects of the antidepressants used.

Treating depression in women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Women often face symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) such as abdominal pain and bloating, headache, breast tenderness, fatigue, anxiety, and irritability just before the onset of menstruation.

PMS refers to a variety of physical or mental symptoms that usually occur about a week to ten days before a woman starts her monthly menstrual cycle. Three out of every four menstruating women experience premenstrual syndrome.

These symptoms are seen more in the 20 to 30 year age group and the manifestations differ widely. For most, these premenstrual symptoms are short-lived

But, in a few percentages of the young women, these symptoms can be quite disabling often causing severe problems in their life, work and in a relationship.

Such a condition is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a type of depression, which warranties treatment. It is a more severe form of PMS

Usually, PMDD symptoms improve with self-help measures such as natural and home remedies. Briefly, these remedies involve the following.

  • Exercise
  • Dietary changes
  • Stress management
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Herbal remedies

Severe cases require medical intervention, which is in the form of therapy with antidepressants.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil work well and help to alleviate the symptoms of PMDD. They may be given for an extended time or during the two weeks leading up to menstruation.

Depression treatment during pregnancy

Treating depression during pregnancy can be complicated and a decision that weighs heavily on the doctor’s mind. Sometimes mild depression during pregnancy can be managed by psychotherapy and counseling and some natural remedial measures.

But, if the depression is severe or an earlier history of depression is present, then the odds do favor medical intervention with antidepressant therapy.

This is done, in spite of the fact that antidepressants can cause harm to the developing fetus and mainly because effects and complications of depression can be dangerous.

Here, it is necessary to educate yourself on effects and complications of depression and the side effects of antidepressants.

The treating doctor will then make the best and balancing choice of treatment for the betterment of the health of the mother and the baby. Here are some questions that may occur to you.

Why treat depression during pregnancy?

Depression completely shatters the depressed person and has even led people to attempt and commit suicides.

A pregnant depressed woman will not take proper prenatal care and neglect things such as eating a proper nutritious diet, which is necessary both for the mother and the baby during pregnancy.

Pregnant mothers with depression often turn to alcohol and substance abuse, which can be terrible for the mother and baby and cause fetal alcohol syndrome. Untreated depression can also cause

  • Baby with a low birth weight
  • Premature delivery
  • Congenital defects in the baby
  • Increased risk of postpartum depression (explained in types of depression)
  • Thoughts in the pregnant woman of harming herself and the developing baby

Considering these risks, it becomes necessary to put the expecting mother on treatment. Therapy of depression in women consists of antidepressants along with psychotherapy or counseling. Family therapy will especially be useful for the depressed pregnant women.

There is growing evidence, which suggests that many of the newly available antidepressant drugs, including most SSRIs (except for Paxil), appear to have very little risks during pregnancy, with respect to the potential short-term effects on the baby.

Choosing the right antidepressant will be the treating doctor’s prerogative and choosing a well qualified and experienced doctor of this field of medicine becomes very important.

Many countries have centers that deal with women depression only and that act as good retreats. Women talk freely among themselves and greatly benefit from the talk therapy.

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