DENVER — Middle age is a time that holds many challenges for women, but depression is a growing concern for millions.
The Centers For Disease Control reports that 1 in 8 women between the ages of 40 and 59 are battling depression, the highest rate among any other demographic in the U.S.
Dr. Dana Steidtmann of the University of Colorado Anschutz Depression Center says many women carry genes that cause their depression, but life experiences during middle age can trigger a problem that’s difficult to recover from.
She says, “(women) may be shouldering a lot of burden caring for children while also caring for aging parents who have needs and this is extraordinarily stressful for women.”
Stress on the job is also more common among women, who may struggle to excel in their careers or have to face a career change later in life. The symptoms include sadness, loss of appetite and change in personality.
Steidtmann explains, “she’s stopped doing things she used to do for hobbies, it’s seeming she’s in a funk, not herself and just going through the motions.”
That was the case for 50-year -old Jennifer, who struggled after she was diagnosed with depression.
She says, “I’d find myself sitting and staring and not really knowing what to do and very slight things made me feel like I was going to cry.”
She has since received treatment and works to help other women through the Colorado Mental Wellness Network http://www.mentalwellnessnetwork.org. Treatment often includes medication combined with therapy, but doctors say it is also important that loved ones make it clear that they’re there to listen.
Steidtmann stresses that any approach should only be made during a calm period: “Say ‘I’m concerned about you, you don’t seem like yourself, what’s going on?’”
Jennifer says it’s also important to have a talk with yourself, “Say ‘hey, there’s something going on this isn’t how I usually feel or how I want to feel and there’s something I can do about it.”
For more information about the signs, symptoms and treatment options for depression visit the CU Depression Center at http://www.coloradodepressioncenter.org/