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Depression: 1 in Every 8 Women Experiences It.

Today's tragic death of Kate Spade in an apparent death by suicide marks another reminder of the epidemic facing our nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States. There were twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362). According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) approximately 12 million women in the United States experience depression each year. One in every eight women can expect to develop depression at some point in their lifetime. Women alarmingly experience depression at twice the rate of men.

Why is this? Depression affects women differently due to the physical and hormonal changes that are unique to women at various stages in their life such as during pregnancy, the postpartum period, perimenopause (transition into menopause), and during the menstrual cycle.

Being sad is a common emotion that everyone experiences, however depression is more than just sadness. Depression is a real medical condition that is debilitating. It can significantly affect mood and interfere with day to day functioning. Common symptoms present for over a 2 week period include:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.

  • Irritability

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities and hobbies.

  • Significant weight loss or weight gain.

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).

  • Restlessness or trouble staying still.

  • Fatigue, tiredness, or loss of energy.

  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt.

  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.

  • Thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or failed attempts.

While there is no way of truly knowing the inner thoughts of Kate Spade prior to this tragedy, the reality is there isn't a single reason anyone dies by suicide. As we learned with the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" suicide is typically a combination of different compounding factors. Typically depression can stem from traumatic experiences, genetics, life circumstances and stressors, brain changes, other medical conditions, and or drug and alcohol abuse. While depression can be a devastating illness it can be treated. The most common treatment options for women suffering from depression include therapy and medication. A combined treatment approach can have an 80% success rate. The critical thing to remember is that the depressed individual may not be able to do this alone. They may be at a point where they have lost all hope and typically are looking for a way to end their pain. Support and understanding is critical at this point.

The following self-help techniques have also been proven to combat depression by elevating your mood:

  • Regular exercise.

  • Daily Self-Care.

  • Mediation & Yoga.

  • Getting a restful nights sleep, 8 hours a night is ideal.

  • Involvement in regular social activities & functions.

  • Nourishing your body with healthy food options.

  • Having a support network that you can share your feelings with.

We have to do better as a society. It's so saddening to hear that yet another individual lost their life by suicide. As a mental health therapist, it makes me wonder what else we could be doing to support our community and help reach those who are in pain. Here are some things we can all do as a community. Focus on the following preventative factors: connectedness between individual, family, and community. Research indicates that positive and supportive social relationships and connections can decrease the risk factors in someone’s life.

  • Connectedness between individuals: Get to know your neighbors. Reach out to the friend that is going through a difficult moment even when they are pushing you away, continue trying anyway. Make an attempt to build relationships with your co-workers. Make it a point to greet and talk to youth in your community. Teachers, coaches, and other positive role models can make a big difference.

  • Connectedness between family members: Put the electronics away and engage as a family. Spend time together on family outings. Enjoy family meals together. Be sure to share how much you truly love them, you can never say it too much.

  • Connectedness to community: Individuals who feel connected to their communities are less likely to harm themselves. Increase and build supports within the community such as with religious organizations and community mental health agencies. Seek community support early for your loved ones such as with a mental health professional or support groups. Volunteer with local non-profits to make an impact in your local community.

While there is not one solution to reach those who are suffering we all have to do our part. It is a community problem and the only way we will ever solve this epidemic is by coming together to uplift and be the light for those who are struggling to see it through the pain.

*If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

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