Depression is often counted out of the ‘poor health’ category, but major depression, in medical science, is a chronic illness with high prevalence levels. Depressive disorders are one of the leading causes of years lived with disability, and depression-related deaths (suicide and stroke) are constantly increasing globally, especially in women. Most researchers say the prevalence of depression is much higher in women compared to men. The primary reason behind this imbalanced prevalence is suggested to be biological sex differences, while there may be various other reasons including numerous social, psychological, biological and economic factors.
Estrogen and progesterone affect neuroendocrine, neurotransmitter, and circadian systems, all of which concerns with mood disorders. Further, mood disorders have been said to have a proportional relationship with the female sex hormones, which tend to be affected by menstrual cycle in women. This also means that hormonal fluctuations during childbirth also associate with similar mood disorders. Given that the hormonal risk factors come in play in the reproductive years, peak onset of depressive disorders in women is therefore seen between ages of 25 and 44.
Girls of younger ages are often professed to be more sensitive and nurturing to the judgments, beliefs and opinions of others, while boys are pushed towards developing a greater sense of independence in their lives. Besides, even as they grow up, women and men are supposed in a definite idealistic figure, where women are expected to have certain conduct in the society and adhere to certain rules. This type of socialization leads to greater depression in women who must frequently look outside themselves for substantiation.
Considering the still in place gender norms in India, it is theorized that women, with a fear of turning to a cultural misfit, tend to receive unpleasant life events related to children, reproduction or housing more dramatically than men, considering them an important part of defining their identity. Therefore, housewives and mothers find their parts diminished, while working women face discriminatory inequality at their jobs, leading to conflicts between their multiple roles and societal identity, resulting in stress and depression.
Varied coping abilities
Evidences suggest that women experience more life events with greater sensitivity throughout their lifetimes. Adolescent girls tend to suffer from life events relating to relationships (with parents, peers and friends) and take greater levels of distress than boys. Other factors relating to marital problems, family responsibilities, on-job discrimination, losing a loved one etc. can be psychological disturbances leading to depression in women.