All people are created equal, but not – it seems – when it comes to mental health. Women are twice as likely to suffer anxiety and depression as compared to men. Exactly why isn’t 100% understood, but researchers believe it has to do with hormones, environment, and lifestyle.
Latif Ziyar, MD is well aware of the gender-specific differences when it comes to mental health. He’s available to help you, regardless of whether you’re male or female, overcome the struggle with anxiety and depression. He also can help you understand why women are particularly prone.
Anxiety and depression are distinct disorders
Anxiety and depression are not the same thing. These mood disorders are often categorized together, but are completely separate illnesses that may occur together – but don’t always. You may suffer from anxiety, from depression, or from a combination of the two.
Depression affects approximately 15 million people in the United States, 70% of whom are women. You may suspect you have depression if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of energy
- Persistent and overwhelming sadness or hopelessness
- Drastic weight changes
- Cognitive challenges, such as trouble concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
- Sleep problems
Depression isn’t just one illness, either. It can be categorized as major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, or seasonal affective disorder.
Occasional worry and stress are normal. Anxiety is diagnosed when this worry and stress exceeds what’s normal or expected. Symptoms include:
- Excessive nervousness or agitation
- Loss of interest
- Rapid heart rate or breathing
- Trouble sleeping
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Uncontrollable fear
Anxiety can be characterized by panic attacks or be a low-grade hum that accompanies you all day long.
The role of hormones
Women have very different hormones than men and this may play a role in women’s greater risk of anxiety and depression. Much of what makes a man a man stems from testosterone and women are governed in some obvious, and not-so-obvious, ways by estrogen. These hormones are what create the outward physical differences, but they also have a surprising effect on mental and emotional health.
Women experience far greater fluctuations in hormone levels throughout their lives, and many researchers believe that these changes can have an effect on the brain’s wiring. This would explain the mood swings that accompany PMS or why postpartum depression develops.
But hormones don’t necessarily solve the discrepancies in mental illness cases between men and women. Some researchers believe that men and women are equally prone to depression and anxiety, but women are more likely to report it. Men may be much less likely to report their symptoms. Additionally, women are more vulnerable to situations that precipitate anxiety or depression, such as abuse, violence, or economic insecurity.
All the reasons why women are more vulnerable to anxiety and mental illness are conjecture, however. There is no clear reason. However, the greater risk is probably due to a combination of hormones, environment, genes, stress, and cultural/societal pressures.
The good news is that Dr. Ziyar has effective ways of helping you control your depression or anxiety.
If you have any of the symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, seek help. Dr. Ziyar can help you stop the vicious cycle that these mental disorders create and get you started on a treatment plan. He helps you with counseling, medication, and some lifestyle changes.
All too often, women are afraid to show weakness and admit to having a problem, but we feel it’s a show of strength when you identify your issue and get help.
Women, and men, in Fresno, California should call the office of Dr. Ziyar for help rather than continue to suffer. Alternatively, use this website to make an appointment.