Believe it or not, women generally have higher rates of depression. Now this is reported rates, so I am not saying men have less, but none the less, we women - we get sad and hopeless sometimes. And we are also at a higher risk for depression and anxiety during 4 major transitions in our lifetime (and yep, it's connected to hormones.)
-Adolescence - Before our brains are fully developed we have a huge hormonal influx. Estrogen begins to rush through the body, and we experience physical changes. Also, the emotional world of the teenage girl becomes, well, more complex. It is during adolescence that we seek to separate more from our families and establish our own identity. People will joke about the moodiness of teens, but in reality a lot of young girls do experience depression. This can be expressed through isolation, self harm, thoughts of suicide, or erratic behaviors.
-Pregnancy - This is another major transition for our body and our mind. We add to our identity the role of mother. And not one woman responds the same to the process. Momma guilt can start early on in fact. Feelings are overwhelming - excitement, fear, love, anxiety and sadness. It can all come at once or in waves. Some of this comes from the expectation of the unknown and trying to assimilate to the idea of another life to care for. Women that experience depression during their pregnancy are at higher risk for post partum depression.
-Post Partum - You make it through the pregnancy and now is a new regulation phase for women - adjustment to external changes in the family and the internal changes in your emotions and thinking. This is another sensitive period for women as not only hormones change, the stress of being a mother, partner, and all other roles can overwhelm. As a mother, you anticipate because you want to protect. This can create anxiety. It is a normal protective response in the brain. But along with that is fear that you cannot protect or that you might fail. Not all women experience this but it is what keeps us growing and seeking to be better mothers. That kind of pressure can lead to more depression or sadness.
-Menopause - I have seen several women that experience depression or anxiety and when they found out they were menopausal and got treatment, those symptoms subsided. But this is another point to acknowledge in the lifespan of a woman. It is a marker for no longer being able to have children. It holds significance in that the woman is aging and her life is changing. This doesn't mean the end of things, but to have a major change in your body such as peri menopause or menopause can trigger feelings of loss or sadness.
The 4 transitions deserve attention for women. You aren't alone if one of these transitions is hard for you. It can happen that you will experience depression. And saying that we are just "hormonal" doesn't cut it. It's important that when your body goes through changes, that you still take care of your emotional health. Making sense of the transitions your are experiencing and finding ways to cope and flourish in the midst of them can give you the best outcomes in each period of your life.
What has been your experience in these transitions?