Depression is more common and unique among women than men, likely due to certain biological, hormonal, and social factors that are unique to women. Depression affects each woman differently.

Pregnancy, hormonal changes, the postpartum period, perimenopause, and the menstrual cycle are all associated with dramatic physical changes. Certain types of depression that occur at different stages of a woman’s life include:

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Most people are familiar with the term “PMS” or premenstrual syndrome. Moodiness and irritability in the weeks before menstruation are quite common and the symptoms are usually mild. But there is a less common, more severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is a serious condition with disabling symptoms such as irritability, anger, depressed mood, sadness, suicidal thoughts, appetite changes, bloating, breast tenderness, and joint or muscle pain.

Perinatal Depression
Pregnant women commonly deal with morning sickness, weight gain, and mood swings. Caring for a newborn is challenging too. Many new mothers experience the “baby blues”—a term used to describe feelings of worry, unhappiness, mood swings, and fatigue. These feelings are usually somewhat mild, last a week or two, and then go away as the new mother adjusts to having a newborn. Perinatal depression is depression during or after (postpartum) pregnancy. Perinatal depression is much more serious than the “baby blues.” The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany perinatal depression may make it difficult to complete daily care activities for a new mother and/or her baby. Post partum psychosis is a very serious and dangerous form of post partum depression, where the mother may be at risk of hurting her baby or herself. This condition may require hospitalization.

The transition into menopause is a normal phase in a woman’s life that can sometimes be challenging. A women who is going through perimenopause, might experience abnormal periods, problems sleeping, mood swings, and hot flashes. But it is a myth that it is “normal” to feel depressed. Women who are struggling with irritability, anxiety, sadness, or loss of enjoyment at the time of the menopause transition, may be experiencing perimenopausal depression.