In Canada, the prevalence of major depression is higher in women than in men (5% compared to 2.9%, approximately) – statistics which are mirrored in developed countries across the globe. The situation is particularly dire for young women. As stated in research by P Albert, published in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, young women are now at the greatest risk for major depression and mental disorders globally. The higher rate of depression in women is also reflected in prescriptions for antidepressant medications. What is causing depression to burden young women, and how can this issue be tackled in the most effective way possible?
Why Is Depression More Prevalent Among Women?
In general, depression is more prevalent among young people, as stated by scientists from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Researcher Renee Goodwin explains, “Depression is most common among those with least access to any health care. This includes young people and those with lower levels of income and education…” P Albert, meanwhile, postulates that depression is more prevalent among women because they have different triggers. For instance, they display more sensitivity to interpersonal relationships, while men display more sensitivity to external and goal-oriented factors. Women can also experience specific forms of depression-related illness (including premenstrual dysphoric disorder and postpartum depression). Hormonal changes experienced during puberty can be a trigger. Albert states that “biological factors, such as the variation in ovarian hormone levels and particularly decreases in estrogen, may contribute to the increased prevalence of depression and anxiety in women.”
Treating Depression In Young Women
Standard SSRI medication is often prescribed for people with depression, yet around 40% of patients remain depressed despite taking an SSRI medication. Research by J Siddique and colleagues shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is more effective than medication for severely depressed women after a one-year period. Researchers from Yale, meanwhile, report that ketamine is also highly effective for adolescent depression. In a randomized trial, the scientists divided a group of patients aged 13-17 into two groups. One group received intravenous ketamine, and the other midazolam, on specific days. The results showed that 77% of the patients receiving ketamine enjoyed a 50% reduction in depressive symptoms, while 35% of those on midazolam obtained a similar response.
Medical teams often recommend complementary approaches to depression for both youths and adults. Because stress is considered a trigger for depression and anxiety, keeping stress hormone (cortisol) levels down is vital. Various studies have shown that holistic activities such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, pranayamic breathing, and spending time in forests and other green areas can lower stress and help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. So, too, can staying physically active through a combination of cardiovascular and strength exercises.
Young women are at a particularly high risk of depression. Researchers believe that this can be attributed to hormonal and other causes. Currently, one of the most effective means of quelling depression is intravenous ketamine. Complementary approaches such as meditation can also help reduce depression and anxiety by helping people to manage their stress levels.