Back to Top Skip to main content

Women and depression

Mental health technicians assigned to the 48th Medical Group Mental Health Flight converse in the hospital reception area at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. The Mental Health Flight is one of many resources available to assist with depression and other mental health concerns. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shanice Williams-Jones) Mental health technicians assigned to the 48th Medical Group Mental Health Flight converse in the hospital reception area at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. The Mental Health Flight is one of many resources available to assist with depression and other mental health concerns. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shanice Williams-Jones)

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Women's Health | Depression | Mental Health Care

Imagine having feelings of worthlessness or helplessness. Imagine being unable to sleep, feeling restless and irritable much of the time, or even hiding under the covers afraid to face the day. Many who suffer from depression may not be able to concentrate at work or perhaps even get to work. Those experiencing high- and low-functioning depression know such feelings all too well.

But for women, there are certain times in their lives when a depression diagnosis is more common. Research has shown that hormonal changes at three stages of life—puberty, post-pregnancy, and during perimenopause—may trigger clinical depression.

Dr. Nancy Skopp, research psychologist at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence, described clinical depression, or major depressive disorder, as a depressed mood lasting at least two weeks and marked by a loss of interest in things that once were pleasurable. She noted that this period would contain a clear change from previous functioning. If someone isn’t completing work duties, shows up late for work, or experiences profound fatigue and avoids interaction with family and friends, depression could be the cause.

“Depression symptoms in women often occur around a reproductive event,” said Skopp, adding that there is some evidence that suggests women may have a chronic and recurrent course with longer and more frequent episodes than men.

Symptoms of depression from the National Institute of Mental Health

Skopp cited statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health showing that 50-80 percent of new mothers may experience the “baby blues,” which usually appear about a week after giving birth and include feeling down, irritability, sleep problems, anxiety, and eating too much or too little. The difference is that the symptoms are mild and usually resolve in a week or two.

Postpartum depression is much more serious, Skopp said. Between 10 and 20 percent of new mothers experience depression, according to NIMH statistics. Symptoms of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion may make it difficult to complete daily activities as a new mother.

During perimenopause, usually between the ages of 40 and 50, when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen, depressive symptoms combine with menopausal symptoms. Women may also experience other life challenges, such as the demands of caring for aging parents, a change in marital status, health problems, or negative attitudes about aging. Skopp said although men may experience similar stresses at midlife, the hormonal changes experienced by women may compound such stresses. “It’s a very challenging time,” she said.

Approximately 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year, with one in eight experiencing depression in her lifetime, according to NIMH research. This rate of depression corresponds to hormonal changes in women, particularly during these three life stages, suggesting that female hormonal fluctuations may be a trigger for depression. Another trigger may be gender differences between women and men, which may be genetic or involve life stressors and coping styles.

Skopp says research shows women may have a greater tendency to internalize in the face of depressive symptoms. Men appear to be more likely than women to cope with such symptoms through behavioral distraction, such as doing something that takes the mind off depressive feelings. The result appears to be that more active distraction in men may shorten or prevent a depressive episode whereas internalization in women may prolong it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between 2013 and 2016, 10.4 percent of women experienced depression compared to 5.5 percent of men.

“Being in the military can magnify the depression triggers one might experience in the general population,” said Navy Cmdr. Paulette Cazares, associate director for mental health at the Naval Medical Center San Diego.

“The benefit of seeing depression as any other illness allows service members to realize the necessity of early treatment, and the ability to stay focused on career and personal goals,” Cazares said. “Psychotherapy or antidepressant medications are first-line options to treat depression and reduce chances of a relapse. Meditation and yoga as therapy have also been used successfully to alleviate depressive symptoms.”

If you have symptoms of depression, talk to your health care provider. A loved one showing symptoms should be encouraged to speak to a health care provider as well. Military OneSource also has resources and information available for service members and their families.

You also may be interested in...

HPV vaccine now recommended for those up to age 45

Article
1/14/2020
https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/hpv/ Recent CDC and FDA guidance recommends that men and women up to 45 years of age get vaccinated to protect against the Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and can cause certain cancers and genital warts. More than 14 million new HPV infections occur in the U.S. each year, and about 80 percent of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some point in their lives. (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases image)

HPV shot protects against a host of diseases in men, women

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Men's Health | Women's Health | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Vaccine Recommendations

DHA PM 6025-01: Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) Standards

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedures Manual (DHA-PM), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (i), establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures to establish required standards for: a. Military Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and primary care clinics for adult, child and adolescent, health behavior, behavioral medicine, and behavioral health services in primary care. b. Behavioral Health Consultants (BHCs). c. Behavioral Health Care Facilitators (BHCFs). d. External Behavioral Health Consultants (EBHCs). e. Primary Care Clinic Leaders.

Shining light on those wintertime blues

Article
1/8/2020
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of Americans every year and is believed to be more common in parts of the country where the sunshine is less prevalent, such as here. SAD symptoms can include a down mood, loss of interest in activities that are normally enjoyable, change in appetite, sleep patterns, fatigue and loss of energy. (Navy photo by Douglas Stutz)

About seven percent of people experience a depressive episode every year

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Sleep

3D Mammography Toolkit

Publication
12/19/2019

Recommended Content:

3-D Mammography | TRICARE Health Program | Women's Health

New 3-D mammogram option the next step in diagnosis, treatment

Article
12/19/2019
Chief Hospital Corpsman Naomi Perez, a certified mammogram technician (left), conducts a mammogram for a patient at Naval Hospital Pensacola. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray procedure used to detect the early stages of breast cancer. A policy change effective Jan. 1, 2020, will allow digital breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography, to be used to screen for breast cancer. The procedure – known technically as Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) – will be offered primarily to women age 40 and older, and women age 30 and older who are considered high-risk for breast cancer.  The procedure’s 3-D images provide a more thorough means of detecting the disease. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brannon Deugan)

Procedure would enhance effectiveness of breast cancer screening

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Women's Health

3D Mammography Infographic 1

Publication
12/16/2019

Share this infographic to spread the word about 3-D Mammography coverage

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Women's Health | 3-D Mammography

Talking_Points_3D_Mammography

Publication
12/16/2019

These talking points share information about 3-D mammography

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Women's Health | 3-D Mammography

3D Mammography Infographic 2

Publication
12/16/2019

Share this infographic to spread the word about 3-D Mammography coverage

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Women's Health | 3-D Mammography

Mental Health Professionals

Congressional Testimony
11/26/2019

S. 3129, SAC Report for FY 2019, 115-290, Pg. 211

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness

Award-winning Navy team successfully improves care for women, infants

Article
11/26/2019
Labor and Delivery providers were the front-line adopters of the Induction of Labor care pathway at Naval Medical Center San Diego. As of July 2019, over 80 percent of the hospital’s providers were using the pathway. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joseph A. Boomhower)

An award-winning team of nurses successfully implemented a treatment guide at Naval Medical Center San Diego that improves labor and delivery outcomes

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | Children's Health | Women's Health

Are you sad or are you SAD?

Article
11/20/2019
Some individuals suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also referred to as Depressive Disorder. As the name suggests, it’s a form of depression that occurs during the seasonal change to winter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trevor Cokley)

In the U.S., SAD is estimated to affect 10 million people

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness

For a good grade on bone health, aim for D – vitamin D

Article
10/15/2019
An Army trainee at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, gets a bone density scan as part of a study with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Massachusetts, that's aimed at reducing musculoskeletal injuries. (Courtesy photo)

Women generally more deficient than men in this essential nutrient, studies find

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

Inclusion of Women and Minorities in the CDMRP

Congressional Testimony
10/7/2019

S. 3159 SAC Report for FY 2019, 115-290 Pg. 213-214

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

The Head, Hand, and Heart of Women’s Health

Article
10/4/2019
Maintaining peak health is critical for all military personnel. This month, we focus on women whose health concerns and symptoms may be different from those in men. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Roger Jackson)

Health is universal for military personnel and civilians, but some health concerns affect women differently. Here are a few examples.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Women's Health

Women's Health Month: Take ownership of health, wellness issues

Article
10/1/2019
Navy Cmdr. Francesca Cimino, M.D. (standing) confers with a colleague in the Family Medicine department at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

Regular cancer screenings are vital, but there's much more to longevity

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Women's Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 9

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.