In the U.S. alone about 15 million people experience depression each year, and the majority of them are women. Depression is a common although serious illness, but the vast majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with proper treatment.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the most common forms of depressive disorders are major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder. Minor depression is also common.
Major depressive disorder
- AKA major depression
- Symptoms interfere with a person's ability to function normally
An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person's lifetime, but more often, it recurs throughout a person's life.
- AKA dysthymia
- Depressive symptoms are:
- long-term (e.g., two years or longer)
- less severe than those of major depression
Dysthymia may not disable a person, but it prevents one from functioning normally or feeling well.
Minor depression is also common. Symptoms of minor depression are similar to major depression and dysthymia, but they are less severe and/or are usually shorter term.
Women who are depressed don’t all experience the same symptoms. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last vary depending on the individual and her particular illness. Signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Irritability, restlessness, anxiety
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, waking up during the night, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
The most common treatment methods are medication and psychotherapy. Dr. Strebel or Dr. Grolle are concerned with all aspects of women’s health and can help you find the best treatment options for you.