Is it true that more women are depressed than men? On the surface it certainly seems so. Nearly two thirds of all antidepressant drugs are prescribed to women. But is this the whole picture? Surely with rising unemployment and the pressure for some men to have to stay at home and support their higher earning wives we should see increased depression in men as well?When you start to look below the surface there are some interesting things which come to light.
- In order to sell anti depressant drugs the pharmaceutical companies have to convince people that they are depressed. Think back to the 1960’s and the widespread addiction to valium or “mother’s little helper” as the Rolling Stones said. It is possible that over the years as the advertising industry has gained in sophistication that more and more women ( as opposed to men) have been convinced that the stress of everyday life is in fact a form of depression.
- Anti depressants are being used to treat non depression related issues. For example the antidepressant drug escitalopram has been found to ease the occurrence of hot flushes in healthy and non depressed women. But this is not depression related.Antidepressants have also been prescribed for menstrual problems.
- A lot of medical professionals think that cognitive or talking therapies should be the first solution which a Doctor should turn to. The difficulty here is that there are a lot of forms to fill in and procedures to follow. Then you have to make the appointment and attend the follow up sessions. Not quite as quick and convenient as proscribing a simple pill, even if that pill might, over time, become addictive.
- It is also worth remembering that the old stereotype of men not wanting to waste time going to see a Doctor still has some validity.
It is well worth having a short look at some of the alternatives available to women who are suffering from depression.Cognitive therapy or mindfulness shares many ideas with basic meditation practices and is becoming increasingly important.Here are five key points which cognitive therapy will address.
- Cognitive therapy might well start by tackling the feelings of hopelessness which can accompany the onset of depression.
- It will then work to overcome the negative thought cycles which reinforce the depression.Tackling these negative thoughts and the unrealistic expectations which many sufferers have is a key element in the treatment.
- Cognitive therapy should help the patient to prioritise and see what is truly important.
- Behavioural therapy can help the patient to develop better skills to cope with the stress of everyday life.
- Interpersonal therapy can work in areas where are relationship problems.
To really answer the question of why are more women depressed we should also be able to know how many men and women are depressed but are not receiving treatment.
This article was written by Christopher Kelvin who lives in Northumberland.