Mental health as well as physical health is important to a long and happy life. But while there is usually visual evidence of physical ailments, mental illness is not as obvious to the casual observer and oftentimes masks itself even to those closest to the individual who harbors the condition.
Depression is a common ailment of mental health. While there are levels of depression from mild to severe, any type of depression can have an effect on your physical health as well. That’s why it’s important to recognize depression and take precautions to guard against its negative effects.
Women and Depression Fast Facts
- One in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life.
- Depression affects twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethnic background or income.
- Depression is the number one cause of disability in women.
- In general, married women experience more depression than single women do, and depression is common among young mothers who stay at home full-time with small children.
- Women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse are at much greater risk for depression.
- At least 90 percent of all cases of eating disorders occur in women, and there is a strong relationship between eating disorders and depression.
- Depression can put women at risk for suicide. While more men than women die from suicide, women attempt suicide about twice as often as men do.
- Only about one-fifth of all women who suffer from depression seek treatment.
- Depression can – and should – be treated.
If you suffer from depression, please talk to your physician. If it is a mild case, your doctor may prescribe a medication for you. He or she may refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist for further evaluation by a trained specialist. Don’t be afraid to talk with a professional, they may be able to help you help yourself. Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice and do ask inquire about participating in a regular exercise program.
Exercise releases endorphins, those feel good hormones that make your body feel wonderful after working out. A regular dose of these is good for fighting depression. Also, it has been proven that self-esteem and confidence levels rise after a strenuous workout and usually fights off any depression lingering about.
I find a power walk to be a great way to let my troubles melt away. Sometimes I listen to the sounds of nature and other times I rock to my portable music in my iPod. By the time I return home, my body is tired but my mind is refreshed.
Exercise helps to maintain hormonal balance, especially in women. Your diet, too, has a lot to do with how you feel both physically and mentally. Reducing sugar, caffeine, saturated fat and sodium can help to reduce irritability, frustration, and feelings of sadness and despair, especially for those whose systems are sensitive to certain stimulants and enzymes.
It is very important that you speak to your doctor about your depression, whether mild or severe, there may be help for you through medication or therapy. In addition, a healthy sensible diet that is nutritionally dense and a regular exercise program can improve your overall outlook on life and help to restore your vitality and enthusiasm for life.
~ Karen Ficarelli
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