At least 300 million people around the world experience depression.
Considering how common mental illness is, it’s not discussed openly and frequently enough.
And without talking about it, how will you or your loved ones get the information needed to move forward?
Women (who do or have experienced menstruation) especially need to be aware.
Depression occurs more often in women than in men.
This is likely due to the hormone fluctuation women experience because of menstruation.
But what exactly is depression? Here’s a closer look, followed by 8 obvious signs of hormonal depression and what to do about it.
Depression: It’s More Than Feeling Sad
Depression, as opposed to sadness, lasts for long periods of time (at least two weeks). Degrees of depression vary, but regardless it leaves people unable to do activities of daily living.
There are a few classifications of depression in women. The causes are different but the symptoms are mostly the same.
The first is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It physically resembles PMS (premenstrual syndrome) but has a stronger emotional effect on women.
The second is perinatal or postpartum depression. This form of depression occurs in 10-20% of women after giving birth. It debilitates moms to the point where they may not be able to take care of their newborn children.
The third is perimenopausal depression. It occurs in women who are transitioning into menopause.
Each type of depression is unique in that it happens during different parts of a woman’s life. Although specific causes are unknown, it’s generally accepted that it has to do with changes in the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen restrains cortisol, a hormone related to stress regulation. Progesterone can counteract the good things estrogen does, even though it usually has calming effects.
Thus, the varying amounts of these hormones in a woman’s body have a direct effect on her mind and mood.
Regardless of which type of depression we look at, the symptoms are, for the most part, the same.
8 Symptoms of Hormonal Depression
You may experience some of these symptoms without experiencing depression. It’s important to be aware of the duration of your experience and if you’re having more than one symptom at a time.
If this is the case, you may have hormonal depression.
Common signs of depression in women include but are not limited to:
1. Sadness, emotional emptiness, anxiety
3. Low self-esteem
4. Loss of interest
5. Major weight changes
6. Trouble sleeping
7. Difficulty focusing or completing tasks
8. Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts
If some of these things feel familiar to you, don’t worry. Because depression is common, there are many ways to go about treating it so you can restore your health.
Next Steps: Treatment
The first step to getting treatment is accepting your current mental conditions. This blog talks about the importance of decreasing the stigma around depression.
It’s not only normal to feel depressed, it’s relatively common. Treat your mental health like you do your physical health: if you’re sick, you get treatment. If you’re wounded, you bandage yourself up.
If depression is causing you to have suicidal thoughts or tendencies, you must reach out for help.
There are national hotlines and support groups online that understand what you’re going through and they can help you.
Before or after you get to that point, there are many options to take care of yourself.
There are different forms of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), hypnotherapy, and art therapy.
Seeing a therapist gives you an objective perspective and allows you to tailor a treatment specifically for you.
What you eat affects your mental health because certain compounds in food affect your hormones.
You can take supplements to lessen symptoms of depression, such as omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, and St. John’s Wort.
Additionally, many studies claim there are mental health benefits to reducing sweets, avoiding caffeine, and eating foods high in vitamin B6.
When taking treatment into your own hands, consult a doctor first to make sure you’re being safe (especially if you’re prescribed antidepressants).
See a Psychiatrist
A psychiatrist can prescribe you antidepressants to regulate your hormones. They target serotonin receptors to help regulate your mood, appetite, and sleep.
There are negative side effects with antidepressants, so find what works for you without having to take on too many new ailments.
Don’t settle for “good enough” when it comes to your mental health. Find what’s best for you without compromising anything.
If traditional medicines don’t work for you, alternative treatments might work for you.
Alternative Treatment: Ketamine Therapy
Traditional medicines don’t work for all cases, resulting in treatment-resistant depression (TRD).
10-20% of patients suffer from this, but current research shows Ketamine therapy may be the answer.
Ketamine is an FDA approved anesthetic, pain reliever, and relaxant. It works with different neurotransmitter than antidepressants do.
Positive results happen immediately and are long-lasting. The administration must occur in a clinic and takes about 1-2 hours through IV.
Unfortunately, since this is a new area of treatment for depression, there aren’t many places available to get Ketamine infusions.
It’s worth looking into if you experience TRD because success rates are between 70-80%.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what method of treatment you choose as long as it works for you.
Be Gentle With Depression
In other words, don’t resent hormonal depression. Be patient with you or your loved one’s struggles.
Take baby steps in the direction of better health.
An essential step for everyone touched by depression (themselves or through loved ones) is to talk about mental health.
Have the courage and straight-forwardness to talk about the tough stuff. Continue learning about mental illnesses to de-stigmatize it.
Then, everyone can progress together toward better health.