The category of depression includes several disorders that can have a negative impact on your life. Two of the most common types of depression are major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.
The symptoms of depressive disorders can impact your physical, mental, social, and financial well-being. Women and girls who struggle with depression are at risk for severe immediate and long-term consequences.
For additional information about depression, visit the Mayo Clinic’s depression page.
Common Signs of Depression
The way a girl or woman acts when she has depression can vary. But many women and girls who develop depression demonstrate certain behaviors that may be warning signs to others.
Possible warning signs of depression among women and girls can include:
- Pulling away from family members and friends
- Frequently missing work or school
- No longer participating in activities that they used to enjoy
- Failing to pay bills, complete assignments, or otherwise take care of personal responsibilities
- Eating much more or much less than usual
- Apparent lack of interest in their appearance or personal grooming
- Crying or appearing to become very sad for no obvious reason
- Speaking often about death and dying
It’s important to remember that these are possible signs of depression. They are not proof that an adolescent girl or adult woman has developed a depressive disorder. Only a qualified professional can make an accurate diagnosis.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Outward signs of depression are not the only indications that a girl or woman is struggling with this disorder. They may also experience one or more physical and mental symptoms of depression.
Examples of depression symptoms include:
- Insomnia (having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep)
- Hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
- Dramatic change in appetite
- Profound sadness
- Feeling tired most of the time or all the time
- Low self-esteem
- Finding it difficult or impossible to focus or concentrate
- Having frequent thoughts about death, dying, or suicide
As with the signs of depression, the symptoms of depression will vary. Some girls or women may have several or all of the depression symptoms listed above, while others may only have a few.
Any woman or girl who has been experiencing depression symptoms or exhibiting warning signs of depression should consult with a healthcare provider.
Common Causes & Risk Factors of Depression
Mental health experts have not identified one specific cause of depression, but they have noted a variety of factors that can put girls or women at higher risk for developing a depressive disorder.
Genetics, family background, life experiences, and culture are some of the many influences that may lead a girl or woman to develop depression.
Here are some of the potential causes and risk factors for depression among women and girls:
- Having a parent, brother, or sister who has depression
- Being abused or neglected during childhood
- Having a history of other mental health concerns
- Developing a chronic or long-term medical condition
Unfortunately, simply being female is also a risk factor for depression. Depression is more common among women and girls than among men and boys.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has reported the following depression statistics:
- In 2017, more than 17 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode.
- About 8.7% of adult women experience persistent depressive disorder.
- About 1.9% of adult women have had persistent depressive disorder in the past year.
- The rate of major depression is more than three times higher among adolescent girls than among adolescent boys.
Effects of Depression
The effects of depression can be severe. Each woman’s or girl’s experience with depression is unique, but anyone who develops a depressive disorder is at risk for several effects of depression, including:
- Difficulties in her relationships with family members, colleagues, and friends
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Setbacks in school or at work
- Inability to find and keep a job
- Financial problems
- Health problems due to poor self-care
- Substance use and addiction
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
What Do I Do if My Depression Symptoms Return?
Getting professional care for depression can alleviate certain symptoms and help you manage other symptoms. It will also help you respond in a healthy manner if your depression symptoms return.
Stress at work, major life changes, and other difficult experiences can cause certain depression symptoms to reappear. These causes are often referred to as triggers. When you get help for depression, you’ll learn to recognize and avoid triggers as part of your system for managing the symptoms of depression.
Of course, you can’t avoid every trigger. And sometimes, depression symptoms reappear and become more difficult to manage without an apparent external cause. In many cases, you’ll be able to rely on the skills and strategies you developed, so minor setbacks don’t become major problems.
If you continue to work with a professional to help you manage the signs, symptoms, and effects of depression, this individual can help you address problems when they occur. Local depression support groups and our alumnae program can also be excellent resources for you.
Finally, it’s important to never forget that there is no shame in asking for additional help. Returning to a program for depression care is not a sign of failure, it’s clear evidence that you are committed to maintaining your health.
Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Disorders
Many women and girls who have depression also struggle with other mental health disorders or addiction concerns. When you get comprehensive professional assistance to help you manage the symptoms of depression, this care can also address the symptoms and effects of co-occurring or underlying disorders.
At Timberline Knolls, our detailed assessments and individualized services ensure that we can help women and girls who have been struggling with depression and co-occurring concerns.
This content was reviewed and approved by the clinical staff at Timberline Knolls.