About one in five women will experience an episode of major depression in their lifetime. Rates of depression are twice as high in women as compared with men. Mental disorders rank among the top 10 illnesses causing disability, with depression being the leading cause of disability among people aged 15 and older. Depression can be episodic or chronic, and nearly 40 percent of patients have their first episode before age 18.
Major depressive disorder is a brain disorder characterized by disruption of the coordination of central nervous system circuits for control of mood, thought, sleep, appetite and behavior. It results from multiple genes acting together with environmental factors, such as stressful life events. The symptoms of depression reflect disrupted physiology with sleep, appetite, activity levels and thought processes. The diagnosis of major depression requires at least five of the following symptoms, for two weeks, most of the day, nearly every day, and one must be mood or interest:
- Depressed mood and/or diminished interest/pleasure
- Weight loss/gain unrelated to dieting
- Psychomotor agitation/retardation
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness/guilt
- Diminished ability to concentrate
- Recurrent thoughts of death
Depression is often treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination. In certain cases, other therapies such as bright light therapy may be appropriate.
Along with the joy of welcoming a new baby into the world, many mothers feel sad, anxious or afraid. These feelings can be indicative of the "baby blues" or of postpartum depression.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of mood disorder that occurs in the second half (luteal phase) of the menstrual cycle.
Perimenopause refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause and your body may experience a number of symptoms.
During the perinatal period, fathers may experience traditional symptoms of depression, along with a higher risk of "masculine depression" symptoms, such as irritability/anger, alcohol/substance use or other numbing behaviors.