Article Links Women and Depression
As an obsessive thinker, I absolutely love stumbling upon crystal-clear explanations for perplexing difficulties. This month’s Harvard Mental Health Letter wins my vote with a well-written article that explores the link between women and depression and offers two useful supplemental handbooks for sale. “The Caregiver’s Handbook” is only about 45 pages and covers elder care challenges and solutions; “Better Bladder and Bowel Control” discusses a variety of incontinence conditions and treatments.
The depression article discusses “how biology and society may make women vulnerable to mood disorders.” All I could think of as I read it was “Aah! I knew it!” Here are some highlights.
- Worldwide, depression is more common in women than men; in the United States, the ratio is 2-to-1.
- Women are more than three times likely than men to become depressed by a stressful event.
- Women have higher rates of depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder as well as higher rates of chronic, mild-moderate depression.
- Women are more susceptible to seasonal affective disorder (winter depression provoked by the decline in sunlight).
- Both stressful daily experiences and traumatic events can lead to depression in women, who are often raised to be caregivers and subordinate their needs to others.
- Traumatic experience early in life can have a lasting effect on the brain, because trauma causes high levels of cortisol and other stress hormones to circulate in the blood. These hormones can remain elevated years after the frightening events and depression may result.
- Some women are unusually sensitive to the normal hormonal fluctuations of their menstrual cycles, pregnancy and postpartum changes, and menopause. Mood disturbances and depression are frequent by-products.
- Women could be especially vulnerable to depression due to interactions among stress hormones, reproductive hormones and the mood-regulating neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
This information reminds me that childhood traumas can threaten havoc at any time, no matter our age. And it is suddenly obvious why I love my regime of hormone replacement therapy, Zoloft (it raises serotonin levels), and the sun. Read the entire article to perhaps better understand yourself, your family, or friends.
The supplemental handbooks ($16 for newsletter subscribers; $24 for nonsubscribers) appear comprehensive and concise. A teaser for the caregiving handbook is a small but true sentence: “Settle on a plan but realize that circumstances change.” As for incontinence, apparently some 25 million Americans suffer from some form of it.
To order the newsletter and handbooks: (800) 829-5379; [email protected]; Harvard Mental Health Letter, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142.
In addition, Harvard Medical School and Simon & Schuster have just released two new books: Mind Your Heart: A Mind/Body Approach to Stress Management, Exercise, and Nutrition for Heart Health, and Mind Over Menopause: The Complete Mind/Body Approach to Coping With Menopause. Both books are sold in bookstores and online book sellers.