Both men and women are stressed environmentally, physically and emotionally. However, researchers in social psychiatry point out women are twice as likely as men to develop depression. Why? Theories abound according to the Harvard Mental Health Letter:
- Hormonal changes: Monthly, during pregnancy and at menopause
- Women get caught in a negative worry loop
- Many women are overwhelmed with caregiving responsibilities
- Concerning family, friends and colleagues, most women feel responsible for everyone’s happiness
- On average, women are poorer than men
- Women speak more openly about stress and depression than men, so men might be suffering in silence and could be just as depressed as women
What can you do to improve your mood - naturally?
- Reduce the small daily stressors you have control over. Don’t let stress accumulate and overwhelm.
- Simplify your life by determining what you really need. What you want is often fueled by commercials and competition.
- You need room to roam. Set up a quiet, no disturb zone every day. Even a short break from technology where you can unwind and disconnect from emails, phone calls and your computer will help you restore your natural rhythm.
- Let it go! Living in the moment is not just about enjoying a cup of coffee watching birds in flight. Living in the moment means the past is over and you move on instead of replaying the insult, indiscretion or conflict in your head. Reinterpret the living nightmare to a sweeter, kinder reality. You can change the channel in your head to watch a different movie.
- Exercise is particularly important for women. Every research study I have read asserts that exercise alleviates depression, improving mood and focus. My mantra is, “Lift weights, lift your spirits.” Strength training is quantifiable as you can concretely track your progress which leads to feelings of accomplishment and future empowerment.
- Keep your body and mind in alignment – eat healthy, exercise, get outdoors and sleep. Your gut is lined with serotonin receptors which affect mood. If you are eating junk food to self-soothe, you could be sabotaging your mood.
- Don’t put yourself last on your to-do list when you are caregiver. Your R&R is a top priority. Overdoing leads to depletion which leads to negativity and possibly depression.
- Find your creative compensation when life gives you lemons. Creativity fills an empty heart.
- Women tend and befriend. Plug into upbeat friends who will pick you up when you begin to descend into the “abyss.” Don’t wait to hit the bottom – it is so much harder to climb out.
- Speak to yourself and others using positive language. There is great power in the words you use to describe your daily reality.
If you are still feeling helpless and hopeless, see a professional for treatment options. You might have a chemical imbalance or a genetic predisposition.