12 Powerful Scientific Facts About Women & Depression

depressed womanDepression is an insidious disease. What starts as a series of sad days can somehow turn into a dense emotional fog that feels near-impossible to lift. One in 10 Americans know what it's like to be depressed -- yet 80 percent don't receive ANY treatment. And women are more likely to be depressed than men.


Though depression might not be the sexiest topic you read about today, understanding where it comes from, who gets it, and how the hell to make it go away should still be a top priority.

Here, 12 science-based facts about the mood disorder. And if at least one of these helps get you or a loved one out of a funk, we've done our job.

1. Women experience depression differently than men. True, some signs and symptoms are the same. But women tend to be diagnosed with more Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) -- which is depression in the winter months because of less light. AND we're more likely to have "atypical" depression, in which we may eat more, sleep more, and gain weight.

2. Sadness could be in your genes. Have a family history of depression? Then, you're at higher risk of one day struggling with it yourself.

3. Hormones play a big part. During certain parts of life, your hormones go through major shifts. (Think: puberty, that whole becoming-a-mom thing, menopause...) When that happens, your brain chemistry changes, which can lead to depression.

4. ... which is why postpartum depression is more common than you think. One in 10 women experiences symptoms of depression within weeks of having a baby.

5. Where you live may raise your risk. Or well, they have the highest rates of adults who meet the criteria for depression. The states that make up the "Blue Belt": Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and West Virginia. (These states also have high rates of obesity, stroke, sleep disorders, and heart disease, as well as lower education rates and access to health insurance.)

6. Depression takes a toll on your memory. Your brain can only store so much information, which means if you're holding on to negative thoughts, other memories have to be discarded. Sounds awfully "out there," we know, but you simply may not have the capacity for happier thoughts.

More from The Stir: 20 Celebrities Who Have Battled Depression (PHOTOS)

7. Your binge-watching habit may be getting you down. And it's not just Game of Thrones. Watching TV for two hours or more (the shockingly low threshold of binge-watching) is linked to both depression and anxiety.

8. Fast food doesn't help either. A diet high in fat doesn't just do a number on your heart and weight. It causes significant changes in your brain that leads to depression. In studies, mice who had this fat-induced depression were also weirdly resistant to anti-depressants.

9. Some people get relief online. Many experts recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps you ID -- and change -- the negative thoughts which are keeping you down. Research shows that learning CBT through an online program may be enough for people who don't have severe depression, but still need help getting through a tough time.

10. Antidepressants aren't a cure-all. Only 21-40 percent of depressed peopple are cured by drugs alone. Studies have found that talk therapy AND antidepressants combined serve as more effective treatment for most people.

11. Cutting-edge treatments are on the way. Antidepressants can take WEEKS to kick in, but one surprising treatment works in just hours: It's "Special K," or Ketamine. Yep, that's right -- the psychedelic club drug. When given through an IV to people who had severe "treatment-resistant" depression, they felt better almost immediately. (But the results aren't permanent, and just how safe K is hasn't been determined yet.)

12. Don't stop treatment when you start feeling better. People with depression are at a risk of relapsing. One small thing that makes a huge difference? Continuing treatment until your depression is COMPLETELY resolved. That means 8 weeks with no more than minimal symptoms.


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