Women twice as prone to feeling blue

2/3rd Of Depressed People Likely To Have Suicidal Thoughts At Some Point

Mumbai: Women are twice more likely than men to suffer from depression, say studies from across the world. This de-pressing statistic seems more severe when one considers that two-thirds of the depressed people are likely to think of suicide at some point in time.

“Studies have shown that 10% of the people with severe untreated depression commit suicide,” said Dr Shamsah Sonawalla, consultant psychiatrist at Jaslok Hospital who used to previously teach at Harvard University.

While no one has mentioned depression in the suicide case of television actor Pratyusha Banerjee, psychiatrists such as Dr Harish Shetty say in the glamour world, where every act has to have an approval or end up making a statement, signs of depression can get missed. “Eccentricities are accepted as a part of the glamour world. People in the limelight are supposed to have mood swings and breakups. But beneath this, depression is missed,” said Shetty.

On a conservative estimate, depression affects roughly 12% of Indians but some studies peg it at almost double the rate. Depression among Indian women is rarely, if at all, publicly discussed.

One of the few studies done on the subject appeared in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry’s July 2015 edition. It said, “Depression is widely prevalent in women in India across all age groups. The multiple roles played by Indian women contribute to stress, thereby making her susceptible to depression, which is often under-reported due to stigma,” said the study titled ‘Depression in Women in Indian Context’.

So what makes women twice as prone to depression as men? “The influence of female hormones during the reproductive years contributes to the pre-menstrual dysphoric syndrome, depression during pregnancy, postpartum depression,” said the Indian Journal of Psychiatry article.

Dr Sonawalla classifies the reasons into two main categories: Biological and socio-psychological. “Before puberty boys and girls are equally prone to depression. But after puberty, women are twice as prone to it. Hormonal changes affect the brain’s neurotransmitters,” said Dr Sonawalla. She added that there are several social and psychological causes, including the fact that they have to play a greater role in family affairs, there are several expectations of her and, worse, women have a tendency to feel guilty.

Sonawalla said women have to learn to make time for themselves and undertake stress-busting activities. “Taking up exercise or aerobics can help a woman relax and thereby reduce the risk of depression.

” Several executive health checkups these day integrate psychological tests that provide an insight into a patient’s mental health. “Just as people undergo annual blood checks, they should also be screened for depression,” said Shetty.