Are You Depressed?
Theories, Part One of Four

by Dr. Dorree Lynn

Seven out of ten good days is a kind of quick and dirty way of evaluating your own mental health state. For most of us, life is pretty bumpy and few of us wake up filled with joy every single day. But, there is a difference between a situational time such as a death, divorce, or illness when it is appropriate to feel miserable and a longer period when you have a bad case of the "blues."

When getting up is hard to do and facing the world seems like an unbearable chore, you are probably more than just blue. You are probably depressed. There are many theories that try to explain why people get depressed. But, they all agree, women have a higher incidence of diagnosed depression than do men. Women also appear to be younger when depression strikes, to have more frequent and longer- lasting bouts, and at times, to respond less successfully to treatment. Men tend to react to life's issues with more addictions, alcoholism and other dysfunctional behavior.

Why do women get more depressed? The truth is that while endless books have been written about it, and professionals pontificate at the drop of a hat, no one really knows. One explanation is the artifact theory that says that, in fact, men and women get equally depressed but that men find it less acceptable to express their emotions, so that it appears that women get more depressed than men. Others believe that women's hormones fluctuate more than mens' and that the root cause is biological. Another theory is that woman in our society often have a lesser quality of life in that they tend to be poorer and often bear a disproportionate share of responsibility for child care and housework. Still other mental health researchers believe that women feel more helpless and out of control in our society and that the resulting lower self esteem leaves them feeling helpless, hopeless and depressed. Women also tend to blame themselves for perceived failures more often do men.

Whatever the reasons, women and men often go through times when they are so depressed, they simply cannot function. In the rest of this series, we will explore, sign-posts, impact on relationships and cures. Last week, Tipper Gore and Mike Wallace discussed their personal bouts with depression and how they got help. Many other well-known individuals have come forth with their own stories about their depression. It is important to take away the stigma of "Big Blues" and bring this issue into the open. Once you have come out of the closet, help really does exist.

This column's for you,

DR.D.

Dorree Lynn, PH.D

Dr. Dorree Lynn, author of the forthcoming book Getting Sane Without Going Crazy, is a noted speaker, columnist, and practicing psychologist. Visit her at http://www.sanecrazy.com.