According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are 12 million clinically depressed women in the United States and 6 million clinically depressed men. One out of ever 8 women is depressed … and there are twice as many women than men with depression. So, what is going on?
There is room here to argue that men’s symptoms surface so differently that their depression goes undetected, or that men are less likely to seek help, thus less likely to be diagnosed. Arguments aside, that is a lot of women with depression, 12 million too many. Depression is a serious debilitating disease. According to the World Health Organization, “Depression is the leading cause of disability as measured by YLD (Years Living with a Disability) [in the world!].” Depression is not sadness, though the word depression is used to describe sadness, depression is an illness with sadness being one of its many possible symptoms.
What are the symptoms of depression? According to McWilliams and Bloomfield’s renowned book How to Heal Depression symptoms of depression may include:
Persistent sad or "empty" mood;
Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex;
Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down";
Sleep disturbances (insomnia, early-morning waking, or oversleeping);
Eating disturbances (loss of appetite and weight, or weight gain);
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions;
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness;
Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts;
Excessive crying; and
Chronic aches and pains that don't respond to treatment
Dr. Virginia Valian is a professor who teaches gender and psychology at Hunter College and who wrote one of the most important books I have ever read, Why So Slow? In her book and her lectures, she describes how the accumulation of small disadvantages creates the gap between the success of women and men within our culture.