I Don't Mean to be a Downer, After All . . .
Updated: Feb 16, 2022
. . . women deserve to be celebrated everyday, not just on International Women's Day. And there are so many women that I could shout out to--women who are compassionate and capable leaders in what they do and whom I care deeply about.
And because I care deeply about them, I'm going to discuss something else.
On this day and every day women experience depression at about twice the men's rate throughout their lifespan.
And Girls? Girls ages 14-18 have consistently higher rates of depression than boys of the same age.
The World Health Organization notes that depression worldwide affects more than 264 million people, and roughly 800,000 people die from suicide annually. Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death of 15-29-year-olds worldwide. This is an alarming fact that we can not afford to ignore.
Women and Depression
According to a Mental Health America survey on public attitudes and beliefs about clinical depression, more than half of all women surveyed believe it is "normal" for a woman to be depressed during menopause and don't seek treatment.
Over half the women said denial is a barrier to treatment, and 41% of women said embarrassment or shame are barriers to treatment. That is painfully high.
Women also believe depression is a "normal part of aging" and that it is usual for women to feel depressed after giving birth.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year--
that's 4.5% of all people experiencing clinical depression worldwide each year.
About one in eight women develop clinical depression during their lifetime.
Depression is highest in women aged 25 to 44.
The survey also states that biological factors contribute to depression in women, such as hormonal and reproductive changes and genetics.
Self or Culture?
It is time to examine societal and cultural factors when discussing depression in women.
The above factors all focus on the individual. Still, the context of our cultural and societal norms must be considered, and ultimately, drive reform.
Stress from work and familial responsibility, gender expectations, increasing sexual abuse and violence at home, and inequity and harassment in the workplace all conspire to derail us. And add to higher rates of clinical depression among women than men.
Treatment must include developing personal agency, self-empowerment, and support from peers with lived experience in depression and the mental health industry.
What would that look like? Can you envision it??
National Institute of Mental Health, Unpublished Epidemiological Catchment Area Analyses, (1999).
National Institute of Mental Health: "Depression: Treat it. Defeat it."
National Institute of Mental Health, "Depression: What Every Woman Should Know," (1995). Pub No. 95-3871.
Kandel DB, Davies M: "Epidemiology of Depressive Mood in Adolescents: An Empirical Study," Archives of General Psychiatry 1982; 39:1205-1212.
Seidman D: "Postpartum Psychiatric Illness: The Role of the Pediatrician," Pediatrics in Review, 19 (1998):128-131.
National Mental Health Association, "American Attitudes about Clinical Depression and its Treatment," (March 27, 1996).