Depression is a common mood disorder, especially in women, and often has the power to skew an individual’s perspective on their life and surroundings. For women, feeling overwhelmed by stress from work and family responsibilities often causes them to be more vulnerable to the onset of depression. Recognizing the early signs of the disease and finding treatment as soon as possible is the best method to help prevent it from developing further. To help identify depression early, OB/GYNs and women’s health care professionals screen for symptoms during each visit and can point women to the resources they need.
It is important to become educated and to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression. Symptoms include:
- Little interest or pleasure doing things
- Feeling down, depressed or hopeless
- Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Feeling tired or having little energy
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Feeling bad about yourself – or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down
- Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television
- Moving or speaking so slowly that other people notice, or being fidgety and restless
- Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way
Postpartum depression is actually very common, and symptoms can include: feeling overwhelmed taking care of the baby, difficulty bonding with the baby, or thoughts of harm coming to the baby. It is extremely important to seek the help and treatment of a mental health professional if experiencing these signs.
For some women, nutritional deficiencies, such as low iron/anemia or low vitamin D, or medical conditions, such as diabetes and cancer, can be factors in experiencing symptoms of depression. And some women may present with a variety of physical symptoms, such as headaches, or pain in the back or stomach daily.
For mild or moderate forms of depression, small lifestyle changes may help you overcome these feelings without medication. Finding someone to talk to and sharing how you are feeling is the first step in getting better. A behavioral health professional can help you look for other ways to lift your spirits. Small changes to your daily routine, such as finding ways to better manage stress, calling a supportive friend or family member, listening to uplifting music, going for a walk can help. If you experience symptoms of depression for more than two weeks it is extremely important to seek the help of a mental health professional.
Jamie McMannes is an integrated behavioral health clinician at Cone Health’s Center for Women’s Healthcare at Women’s Hospital. She received her Bachelor of Arts in community and justice studies with a minor in psychology t Guilford College. Jamie received her Master of Social work from the Joint Program in Social Work at North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.