On Saturday, a beautiful girl, 35 years old, came to my clinic. Now it is the most difficult stage. Although she basks in happiness in her circle of friends every day, few people know that she is not happy.
She said: Looking at the piles of folders in the computer, I always shed tears silently. I can’t control my emotions. I have been thinking about why life is so bitter, why the feelings between people are so weak, why I want to live …? Dragging tired body and mind back home every day, I don’t want to do anything, my appetite has obviously decreased, I really want to walk away, even end my life …
This is depression, characterized by persistent depression, decreased interest, decreased activity and other symptoms, which can cause serious adverse events such as self-harm and suicide. It is like an invisible knife that cuts through our bodies and minds.
Many of my visitors asked a question: ” Doctor, we saw in magazines that women are more prone to depression. Why is this?”
Today, let’s talk about this topic!
In recent years, many scholars have conducted a large number of studies on the gender differences of depression, believing that women are more obviously affected by physiological, psychological, social, cultural and other factors, and the incidence rate of depression is about twice that of men.
Biological factors that cannot be ignored
We said that the heritability of depression is about 30% ~ 40%, while the genetic risk of women is higher than that of men. Women’s emotions are easily affected by environmental factors, while genetic factors will increase the susceptibility to specific mental disorders in adverse environments.
Of course, female hormones are also an important factor in depression.
We must not underestimate the changes in hormone levels. Hormones can regulate many neurotransmitter systems involved in the occurrence and development of depression in the brain and the sensitivity of individuals to environmental factors. From puberty, pregnancy to menopause, women are accompanied by changes in ovarian hormone levels in different life cycles, while drastic changes in hormone will lead to a significant increase in the risk of depression.
Some studies have shown that the decrease of estrogen level and the increase of follicle stimulating hormone level are all risk factors of depression for menopausal women. Pre-menstrual tension, postpartum depression and climacteric anxiety are all the results of unstable female hormones.
Do you know? There is a magic little guy in our brain-amygdala. Although it is small in size, it is closely related to human emotion regulation and plays an important role in emotional response and emotional memory.
Scientists have found that the amygdala volume reduction in female patients with depression is more obvious than that in male patients. Although the amygdala volume reduction in adolescent women is not directly related to the risk of depression, it may increase the sensitivity of women to negative events, which in turn increases the risk of depression.
In addition, women have more sleep disorders than men, and long-term insomnia can cause people’s thinking ability and memory decline, endocrine disorders, mental malaise, anxiety and irritability, and even induce or aggravate mental pain and depression.
Social and psychological factors that must be paid attention to
Excessive interpretation of surrounding dangers and long-term pent-up anger experience eventually induce depression.
From puberty onwards, the emotional instability of women is significantly higher than that of men. Women are more likely to experience anxiety, anger, guilt and depression, and are less able to cope with unknown environmental results.
Therefore, female friends are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as ” danger signals” and minor setbacks as ” great tribulations”. This trait is also a high-risk factor for depression.
In general, men have greater physiological responses to social and psychological stress, such as attacking others, while women have relatively weak stress responses. When dealing with negative life events, they tend to attribute the reason to their lack of ability or bad personality. From an evolutionary perspective, this phenomenon is to protect the fetus from maternal stress. However, weak mobilization of stress response is associated with higher risk of depression.
Based on the theory of ” spiritual venting” of psychoanalysis, timely venting of the negative emotions experienced is the key factor to maintain mental health. If the experienced anger is suppressed for a long time, depression will eventually result.
Long-term expectation of negative results and helplessness will eventually lead to despair and may progress to depression.
In terms of suggestibility, women are more likely to accept suggestions. Most of them are kind-hearted and compassionate. At the same time, they are more vulnerable, timid, unable to hide their words, and have stronger vanity and self-esteem. They are more eager for close interpersonal relationships and recognition from others and society. In the face of interpersonal pressure and negative life events, women are more likely to worry about it than men.
Psychologists have found that when depression first occurs, men like to take part in sports activities to vent and get rid of their depression and divert their attention. Women are unwilling to take part in activities, and they will involuntarily ” ruminate psychologically”, that is, repeatedly think about the possible causes of depression and give various possible explanations, passively and repeatedly experience pain, which will also prolong their depression.
Here, I would like to tell you an interesting phenomenon: the higher the socioeconomic status and educational level of women, the lower the risk of depression. In fact, it is better to understand that the more educated women are, the more comprehensive they accept life events and the better their mentality is. People with low income and low academic qualifications have fewer ways to solve problems when experiencing negative life events due to their narrow social contact, which is more likely to cause heavier negative emotions.
Female depression is obviously related to marital quality.
The uncoordinated marriage relationship makes married women in a state of psychological and physiological stress for a long time. Symptoms such as depression and inner pain cannot be understood and comforted by their spouses, resulting in overwork, psychological exhaustion and depression.
For patients with depression, the poor quality of marriage makes the originally depressed mood even more depressed, which can really be said to be ” worse”.
Violence against women cannot be eliminated
Finally, I would like to talk about violence against women. This is a serious global problem, including physical/sexual abuse, rape, sexual discrimination, etc. In some areas, forced marriage and childbirth still exist.
These stress events may increase women’s risk of depression. Negative events in the early growth experience, such as physical/emotional abuse and neglect, will form ” inextricable knots” in the body, which will make the body ” very stiff”.
In later life, as long as there is ” awakening” of relevant events or scenes, the feelings of pain, anxiety and inferiority will reappear, making life invisible to the sun. Worldwide, gender inequality is more common, such as educational achievements, property management, etc., which further affects the gender differences in the prevalence of depression.
According to the above list, we should already know the reason why women are more prone to depression.
Experts from all over the world are paying close attention to ” female depression”, safeguarding women’s rights and interests, establishing a warm and spacious social and family support system, and giving women necessary humanistic care so that they can get psychological support and comfort and feel happy.
In addition, experts also call for the protection of women’s physical health and advocate that women should grow up by themselves and make reasonable psychological adjustment so as to keep pace with the times with ” a good sense of self-efficacy”.