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Study: Women at higher risk for depression

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Depression can strike at any age, but women are at a higher risk for experiencing depression, especially after age 40. Statistically, women are twice as likely to develop clinical depression as men, with one in four women suffering a depressive episode at some point in their lives. The numbers get even more sobering as women reach middle age, and hormonal shifts and life responsibilities (such as the stresses of parenthood) take their toll.

Sadly, more than 15 percent of women between the ages 40 and 64 suffer from recurring depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In reality, the number is likely higher because many cases go unreported.

A notable recent example is actress Dina Eastwood, the wife of legendary director Clint Eastwood. Dina, 44, checked into rehab earlier this week for depression and anxiety. While depression can sometimes go away on its own, oftentimes getting proper treatment at a reputable facility can mean the difference between life and death.

"Most people suffer from some form of stress every day, and many manage to cope with the short-term depression and anxiety caused by these situations quite admirably," according to specialists at Bridges To Recovery. "For millions of people, however, this is not the case." Alarming statistics indicate that people between the ages of 45 and 54 have the highest rates of suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Depression is a serious mood disorder that causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. If left untreated, the condition can debilitate and destroy lives. Fortunately, depression is very treatable, and can often be alleviated through talk therapy, medication, or both. The important thing is not be afraid to seek help.

Common symptoms of depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
  • Restlessness, irritability, or excessive crying
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism
  • Sleeping too much or too little, early-morning awakening
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling "slowed down"
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.
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