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Depression occurs twice as often in women as men. Reasons for this may include hormonal fluctuations (normal cyclical hormonal issues during childbearing years, pregnancy, or hormonal treatments such oral contraceptives), sleep deprivation from childcare duties with infants/toddlers, and stress from attempting to balance household/childcare/workplace duties. Women who are depressed tend to experience more feelings of guilt than depressed men.
Real depression differs from feeling sad in that with a clinical depression the sad, blue, depressed mood or lack of interest in usual hobbies or interests must last for at least 2 weeks and must be accompanied by at least 3 to 4 of the following: significant weight loss or gain, sleep disturbance (increased or decreased), agitation or decreased motor activity, fatigue or loss of energy, excessive feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, concentration difficulty, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
Taking care of our selves on a daily basis can assist with combating and preventing depression. It also models healthy behavior to our children and loved ones. Exercise in the form of muscle toning (such as regular stretching, yoga or tai chi) naturally boosts serotonin levels; and cardio exercise will boost epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin levels. Meditation also has been shown to naturally boost serotonin levels. For more severe episodes of depression, psychotherapy has been shown to be beneficial and there are medications available to assist with boosting mood by increasing the availability of neurotransmitters in the body that modulate mood.
I have taught meditation classes and techniques over the past 8 to 9 years and have found them to be beneficial for many of my patients with mild depression and anxiety. My co-author and I finally put the concepts, meditations and techniques in a book titled Shift: A Woman’s Guide to Transformation to make it more readily available to people who are stressed, anxious or depressed that are not likely to set foot into a therapist’s or psychiatrist’s office for various reasons.
Help is available in many forms- seek assistance if you are feeling depressed to the point that you have difficulty performing your daily activities for 2 weeks or more.
Loads of Light to you all!
Tracy Latz, M.D.