Women's Health Matters

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Everyone feels down or blue from time to time. This is a normal part of being a feeling person. Depression, on the other hand, is a condition that is distressing and causes significant impairment in a person’s daily functioning. It can impact all aspects of your life – your work, your relationships, your feelings about yourself. Depression is characterized by a depressed mood and/or a loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities that lasts at least two weeks. Both men and women can suffer from depression, although it is more common in women. Women experience higher rates of depression, tend to experience different characteristics of depression, and can experience unique times when they are at a higher risk of depression (for example, during pregnancy).

What is depression?

Depression is one of the mood disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR; a manual that mental health clinicians use to diagnose mental illnesses). Mood disorders are those in which a disturbance in the mood is the main difficulty. There are two types of mood disorders: depressive disorders (including major depressive disorder); and bipolar disorders (formerly called manic depressive disorders), which are characterized by having either a manic or hypomanic episode. Other types of mood disorders include: seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression with psychosis, postpartum depression, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.


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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital