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Womanhood: The Stigma of Depression

Womanhood: The Stigma of Depression

The effects of major depression can make many women feel a whirlwind of emotions. It is common for one to feel intense sadness, anger, and hopelessness. The stigma of depression in women can significantly worsen an individual’s condition. This can often lead to substance use disorder (SUD) after hoping to self-medicate their uncomfortable symptoms. Pursuing professional care is crucial to living a much happier lifestyle. Not many individuals know what to expect with treatment. Taking time to speak with a specialist at New Creation Recovery can be a great first step. One may find peace from discussing the benefits of participating in our solution-focused therapy program with a trained therapist. 

What Is Depression?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), it is common for those who face challenges with depression to experience severe symptoms. The effects of depression can negatively affect not only the individuals but their loved ones as well. Society as a whole may experience a burden related to their illness. This includes healthcare systems, law enforcement agencies, and families.

Depression symptoms can affect how an individual thinks, feels, or handles daily tasks throughout the week. Depression can also be recognized as major depression, clinical depression, and major depressive disorder. The mental health condition can affect individuals of any age, ethnic background, race, or gender. Depression can look different in women as females respond and express their symptoms much differently than males do. 

Female Depression Statistics

Based on the aforementioned NIMH study, although men have difficulties with depression, women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. Men can also show signs of depression but experience difficulty recognizing their symptoms. Women feel more open to discussing their emotions and sharing their hard feelings. Thus, a majority of men are likely to be undertreated and undiagnosed as their symptoms often go missed. 

Research indicates that clinical depression is a serious illness with a high rate of cases. Therefore, the mental health condition is a primary component of disease burden. Nearly a decade ago, there was an annual prevalence of 5.5% and 3.2%, which represented a 1.7-fold greater occurrence in females with global depression. 

Young women may begin to experience the onset of depression at the beginning of puberty. Globally, young adolescent women are at the highest risk of developing major depression. Women tend to experience co-occurring depression-related illnesses. For example, an individual facing problems with depression may experience issues with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, anxiety, or postpartum depression. Each condition may be linked with specific changes in ovarian hormones that may contribute to the heightened prevalence in females. 

Different Types of Depression

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is normal for one to have deep feelings of sadness from time to time. For those without depression, those intense feelings typically pass within a few days or up to two weeks. The difficult effects of depression can impair several aspects of one’s life for weeks to months at a time. 

Although the length of depressive symptoms may be concerning, it can be helpful to know that even the most severe forms of depression can improve with proper management and care. Taking time to speak with a specialist can help one target which form of depression they may have and later develop an effective road plan to ongoing recovery. Different types of depression include: 

  • Major depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder 
  • Depression with symptoms of psychosis
  • Perinatal depression
  • Postpartum depression 
  • Postmenopausal depression

Common Depression Symptoms

Not everyone experiences the same depression symptoms, although they may seem similar. The severity of one’s depression strongly depends on the cause of their mood disorder. For example, a woman may have developed depression due to experiencing past trauma, experiencing domestic violence, or after losing a loved one to a tragic death. An individual with severe depression may experience symptoms that feel more intense or that last much longer than one who does not. Common symptoms of depression include: 

  • Feeling anxious, empty, or sad
  • Experiencing deep feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Having feelings of intense guilt, helplessness, or worthlessness
  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Experiencing a great loss of interest in physical activities or simple hobbies
  • Having intense fatigue
  • Feeling aches and pains that do not feel better with treatment 
  • Experiencing suicidal thoughts and or attempts
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Crying more than usual
  • Feeling withdrawn or disconnected from loved ones

What Is Stigma?

It can be difficult for an individual to cope with negative external stigma. This can be especially so for some women having difficulty managing their mental health. It can be easy for one to feel down about certain changes in their life, especially with the external stigma of depression.

On the other hand, self-stigma is where an individual puts themselves down over their mental health condition. A person with depression may feel bad about themselves for having a mental illness. An individual with depression may begin to feel worse when thinking about the cause of their condition. Internalizing shame related to the source of their depression can seem easy. It is best for one to not put blame on themselves or others and focus more on a solution to find relief.

External stigma is where an individual begins to internalize the hurtful attitudes, comments, and beliefs from others related to their health. An individual’s feelings can be especially hurt after receiving external stigma from close friends or family. Major depression can make an individual feel isolated due to external stigma from strangers as well. As a result, an individual may develop and avoid making new healthy connections due to co-occurring anxiety as one may fear hurtful judgment from others. 

The Stigma of Depression in Women

Females are more likely to internalize hurtful stigma from themselves and others. Research has found that some women may hesitate to move forward with professional care due to pragmatic personal reasons. Approximately one-third of participants in one clinical study admitted to going to the farthest extent to hide their depression from others.

It was also estimated that about 55% of women shared that the person they felt safe enough to open up to about their condition was their best friend. Lastly, a majority of women in the study said they would not disclose their mental status to a specialist for various personal reasons. 

The Impact of Gender Norms on the Stigma of Depression

Female gender norms play a huge role in how one responds to the stigma of depression. Society expects both men and women to behave and express themselves in specific ways. An individual’s character is naturally examined by others. Although it is more common for teenagers to fear judgment from peers, young adults experience distress related to scrutinization from others as well. For example, a young mother facing challenges with postpartum depression may still be expected to: 

  • Feel happy or emotional directly after giving birth
  • Be a homemaker, i.e., take care of her children, cook, and clean daily
  • Have a career such as teaching or nursing rather than being a breadwinning firefighter
  • Maintain her physical appearance
  • Be nurturing at all times with positive charisma 

The Link Between the Stigma of Depression and SUD

Self-stigma and external stigma can be very difficult for an individual to cope with on their own. When one begins to internalize negative thoughts, suicidal ideation can become a problem. As stated previously, it is common for an individual to avoid professional treatment due to negative stigma. Thus, it is common for some women to choose to self-medicate their depression with drugs and alcohol.

Although misusing harmful substances can provide some relief, the results are only temporary and can ultimately worsen one’s state of mental and physical health. Prolonged addiction can lead to SUD. This is a severe form of addiction that puts one at risk for an unwanted substance relapse. SUD can quickly spiral one’s life out of control, leading to further pain and distress. 

The Importance of Addressing Co-Occurring SUD and the Stigma of Depression

There are many consequences an individual may face if they do not seek support. A dual diagnosis can be very difficult for one to manage on their own. Even though friends and family may provide much-needed guidance and emotional support, it is imperative for one to seek professional assistance. Doing so can promote ongoing abstinence from drugs and alcohol, including long-term mental stability. 

There are several risks involved if an individual chooses to not seek professional care for depression and co-occurring addiction related to hurtful stigma. Untreated mental health conditions are known to delay gradual milestones. Certain milestones are critical to achieving a solid foundation for a successful future. The risks associated with untreated SUD and co-occurring major depression include: 

  • Impaired academic performance
  • Failure to maintain a successful employment status
  • Poor relationships with family and friends
  • Marital problems
  • Risk for relapse
  • Problems with law enforcement
  • Financial strife
  • Physical health complications

What Is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy?

Although some women are hesitant to move forward with professional support, doing so can significantly improve an individual’s quality of life. While many individuals fear judgment, regardless of what others think, it all comes down to the importance of good health. It may be helpful for one to speak with a specialist at a trusted treatment facility. 

One may start by reporting their medical history and uncomfortable symptoms and elaborate on their strengths. A professional can then recommend specific services that target the individual’s needs. An individual may be able to navigate smoothly through treatment with a developed comprehensive care plan. 

For example, solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is a great treatment option for those who have difficulty coping with the stigma related to their depression. Based on five controlled studies regarding the efficacy of SFBT for depression, it was found that four out of the five studies had reported positive results. In comparison with other treatment options, clinicians have reported strong evidence for SFBT as a trusted treatment option for depression management. 

Benefits of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy to Heal From the Stigma of Depression

This type of therapy provides a short-term goal approach to help one navigate the obstacles related to their condition. SFBT works to incorporate positive strategies and techniques. This is done to assist an individual in changing their negative way of thinking. SFBT can help one develop effective treatment solutions instead of putting all of their focus on past problems. Staying dedicated to SFBT can help one gain new strategies to better respond to negative stigma. Further benefits that come with participating in SFBT commonly include: 

  • Improved relationships with family and friends
  • Decreased marital conflicts
  • Reduced depression and anxiety
  • Maintained abstinence from drugs and alcohol
  • Improved academic performance
  • A developed mindset for effective problem-solving
  • Faster treatment method than most
  • Affordable treatment option
  • Holistic treatment option for a more natural approach

Moving Forward With New Creation Recovery to Fight the Stigma of Depression

New Creation Recovery understands that not everyone responds the same to specific treatments. Some individuals prefer standard treatment options such as surrendering to detox or taking required prescription medications for relief. SFBT is not always offered at a majority of addiction and mental health treatment centers. Fortunately, our treatment facility offers various and unique modalities for effective options. Our team works hard to tailor the right services to meet each client’s individual needs for the best positive outcome. Our team of specialists touches on all areas to get to the source of one’s problem. Not only do our professionals provide care for mental health conditions, but they work to treat addiction as well. 

What to Expect With Solution-Focused Brief Therapy at New Creation Recovery

Many women may avoid treatment because they simply just do not know what to expect. The thought of not knowing what to expect can feel deeply unsettling for some women. Many individuals take comfort in knowing that New Creation Recovery is committed to gender-specific care. Our team of experts kindly provides whole-person care for the intersectionality of co-occurring disorders. 

SFBT is made up of three psychological principles. An individual will work closely with a therapist to enhance their ability to stay motivated and construct solutions to the most challenging problems related to the stigma of depression. The client is advised to keep their focus on the present rather than go back and fix past conflicts. A trained therapist helps one develop an effective plan for a more positive future. If their plan of action seems to be working, they only encourage more effort to enhance positive results. When a solution fails, the therapist and client collaborate with an optimistic mindset to develop a new plan forward for ongoing recovery. 

The Importance of Staying Dedicated to Treatment to Successfully Overcome the Stigma of Depression

SFBT is a great therapy option for those who are seeking a solution to recover from the stigma of depression. Reporting any complaints or concerns to a specialist can ensure a more comfortable experience moving forward. It can be easy for one to have difficulty paying attention in therapy when bringing up sensitive topics. Asking occasional questions and recapping helpful strategies can also be helpful. Sometimes all an individual may need is to change their therapist to increase satisfaction

Everyone deserves to heal from the most severe circumstances. Sometimes depression can leave one feeling run down and demotivated. If this happens, it is crucial for one to communicate how they feel to get back on track to treatment. It is critical to stay dedicated to treatment to achieve the mental stability they are seeking. Doing so can work well for relapse prevention. An individual must understand that therapy takes time and ongoing effort to reach a positive outcome. It can be beneficial for one to take the helpful strategies and tools learned in each therapy session and use them outside of treatment to overcome the stigma of depression. 

Therapy for substance abuse can also address mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. When every day is spent fearing, worrying, and searching for something that makes you a little bit happier, it can feel like torture. New Creation Treatment takes pride in helping people who are struggling with substance abuse and other forms of mental health disorders. Our approach to therapy and treatment addresses each individual’s unique needs. Before undergoing treatment, our experienced mental health specialists will assess your situation and determine which method or methods will work best. To start healing, call New Creation Recovery at (877) 868-5730 today. We look forward to answering any questions you may have about our services.