Depression is a state of low mood leading to individuals’ evading popular activities and some serious psychological disorders. It affects the person’s behavior and reactions to any stimuli. Victims feel week, sad, emaciated, and some of them experience total disillusionment. In extreme cases, they may attempt to commit a suicide. The symptoms are either clinical or non-clinical and sometimes resistant to medical intervention. In order to determine the cause, extent and treatment of depression, it is advisable to assess a patient’s social and medical history. There are various types of depression caused by different factors.
The most common type of depression is clinical depression also referred to as major depressive disorder. It is experienced at least once by nearly everyone in the lifetime. It interferes with an individual’s ability to handle and control their own life. It may be caused by changes in hormonal balances, experienced during menstruation. It may also occur due to some live events, such as death, big losses, and stress. People, who have experienced harsh childhood, are more likely to develop major depressions later in the future. In severe cases, the patients are hospitalized to avoid the risk of suicide or homicide, as, at this stage, they cannot handle themselves. However, if the illness is detected earlier when the symptoms are still mild, it can be treated by the use of antidepressants (Matlin, 2011).
Dysthymia, also known as chronic depression, is another type of depression that inhibits the normal functioning of an individual but with lesser effects compared to major depression. The depression may last for a long time. It has a number of symptoms, which are sometimes hard to detect. They include, low self esteem, lack of motivation, and withdrawal. The victims live in fear of failure and may abstain from any activity. Use of hallucinogens is the most common and one of the oldest ways of treating chronic depression. Other treatments include behavior access, psychotherapy, and consistent counseling. Other forms of depression are postpartum depression in mothers with newborns, cyclotermia depression.
In Europe, depression has been known since the past century with the most severe occurring in 1932. This was due to the high rate of unemployment, the collapse of the economy and the post war effects. Today depression is still a common phenomenon affecting people of different ages, gender, and social status. Women have been greatly affected by depression in this area resulting in devastating outcomes. A research report compiled by European College of Neuropsychopharmacology shows that women in Europe have a risk of two half’s times more likelihood of suffering depression more than men. This mostly occurs during the reproductive age, between 25 and 40 years. The report associates this to child bearing and multitasking involved in both work and family. Another report compiled by Platform 51 states that one out of three women is taking antidepressants today.
The paper will prove that women in the highly urbanized European countries are prone to development of depression due to some personal and social issues. The research will study the notion of depression, causes and effects of the illness on the life and health of such a woman.
Effects of Depression among European Women
Depressed European women are at a higher risk of delivering prematurely or low weight babies. This is caused by the fact that depression changes the women’s eating habits. This makes them susceptible to nutritional related ailments with devastating effects. Pregnant mothers require balance diets to support the development of the fetus and prepare their bodies to the birth process. If the mother is not able to eat properly, the fetus is the first to feel the effects of this imbalance. This may lead to development of poor brain activity and slow down other organs’ development, and even cause defects of the placenta. The effects may be extended to the birth process where the mother's body is too weak to expel the baby; thus caesarian section becomes an only option. In instances of anemia, due to iron deficiency in the body, death may be experienced during birth in case of any bleeding. If depression during pregnancy is not treated, the mother may experience postpartum depression. This may affect the baby’s life and its future, as the depressed mothers tend to be hostile and uncaring (Kornstein, 2004).
About 5-25% of European women are at risk of suffering from postpartum depression, which is also called postnatal depression. This leads to poor relations between the newborn and the mother. This makes the mother pessimistic on child upbringing, an aspect of denial and self blame. This greatly affects the young personality. Women suffering from this kind of depression, however, may be able to take care of the young ones, socially and emotionally. In extreme cases, the mother may harm the baby or even kill it. Pregnant women suffering from depression and living in European social democracies fared better than women in the third world nations and in the United States. They aggregated lower rates of premature deliveries and low-birth weight babies. These social democracies offer good health care and have fewer socio-economic disparities in delivering.
Internal and External Friction
Depressed women experience high rates of both internal and external friction. They tend to hate themselves and their spouses. They demonstrate a high tendency for domineering. They are less assertive and lack expected affection towards their families. They have a tendency to create disputes towards anyone of the opposite sex, even their children. This may end up in mistrust and family breakups. Their emotions are triggered at the slightest provocation and is much willing to seek vengeance to what they feel is injustice. According to Bothell and Weismann (1977), in this state, they break down all the communication lines even the most important ones, like family planning, jobs, and child upbringing.
According to the Time World magazine (the U.K. publication magazine), problems with mother-in-law are frequent among depressed women in Europe. Women feel that their husband’s mothers are intruders in their lives and consider them to be a direct threat. This is developed by the fact that depressed women tend to be domineering and seek total attention. The magazine states that 60% of the European women suffering mother in-law problems are depressed (Hoerder, 1996).
Lack of Sex Drive in Women
Sex and love affairs are products of the brain and are controlled by hormones. Depressed women lack the urge and the drive for sex, unlike their men. Whenever a woman is depressed, she feels unloved, unwanted, and misused. Their bodies fail to respond to the foreplay, making sexual intercourse uncomfortable and painful. The issue is important for European females, as sexual relation is considered to be one of the vital parts of the modern woman’s life. This feeling can be worsened by the use of antidepressants, which lead to lack or delay of orgasms during sex.
Depression and sexual problems may affect the menstrual cycle. This may lead to delayed conception. The spouse may consider his woman to be infertile or suffer from certain infections, which affect reproduction. On some instances, it may lead to divorce as it appears too difficult for a man to stick in marriage when their conjugal rights are not met. He may also tend to think that the woman is unfaithful or rebellious. This may lead the woman to even further depression. To avoid this, women are advised to be open and communicate their emotional feeling and state to their beloved. European women have the possibility and are encouraged to visit the psychologist with their husbands.
Drug and Substance Abuse
Several research reports indicate that depressed women have a high tendency of abusing drugs and other narcotic substances. Alcohol is the most abused due to its availability and by the fact that it is legal in most countries. Among other drugs, which are abused frequently, are tobacco, cocaine, heroin, and some other hand drugs. These substances are preferred as they are able to alter reality for some time and most of them are accessible by every European woman. However, this is a dangerous trend, especially to women already broken by depression. Most drugs, being depressants, tend to affect the nervous system and brain activity, making the situation worse. They also hinder the victim from making a lasting decision but rather dwell on temporary solutions. The risks involved in this action are uncountable, ranging from total mental breakdown to cancers. They accelerate other effects of depression, like lack of appetite, poor feeding habits, and agitation. Furthermore, these substances can lead to mutations influencing the emergence of depression-linked genes, which are later passed on to the offspring, making this a heredity problem. These drugs make women demonstrate more symptoms of depression, some other extreme disorders, and antisocial behavior (Matlin, 2011).
Obesity and Weight Gain
Every European woman fears excessive weight gain, as a slim and neat figure is considered to be earnest of success in the modern western society. Depressed women tend to gain excess weight either as a direct effect of depression or because of development of behaviors associated with the illness. This may include smoking, alcoholism, lack of physical exercise and poor feeding habits. Otherwise, the woman may lose appetite becoming skinny and emaciated. The two extremes may lead to unnecessary attention. This may cause withdrawal. In turn, such social rejection provokes development of a severe depression. Obesity is known to cause a lot of complications with the individual’s health conditions. They are exposed to different diseases and risks. Depressed women should control their feeding and engage themselves in weight cutting practices.
Mental health greatly contributes and affects the heart and other vital organs. Europe is recorded as a place with a high number of heart diseases. Malnutrition, fast food, stress at work and home, pollutions, poor economic and financial conditions make people, especially women, suffer from heart-related problems. Depression usually leads to development of blood pressure and other coronary problems. It may also cause stroke. The records show that the main cause of heart diseases in women is stress and depression, though the relationship has not been well studied and understood yet. Women suffering from depression also run the danger of stress and high blood pressure. If not well addressed, this may lead to acute heart problems.
Medical reports show that mental breakdown occurs due to the overworking of the brain, substance abuse, excessive stress, and sometimes due to some chronic diseases. In times of depression, all these may be experienced leading to acute brain damage. At this point, the patient loses control of everything including herself. They may become violent and engage in some rather embarrassing activities. In extreme cases, the victim loses sense of touch and may go ahead to harm herself by inflicting cuts on her body, taking of harmful and poisonous products. In case these situations happen, it is wise to try and control the patient until the woman sees a psychiatrist.
Inability to Make Decisions
European women play a significant role in family maintenance and development. This is because they are widely involved in making decisions concerning the family issues. They decide how many children to have, what food to buy, where to live. However, when the woman is suffering from acute depression, it becomes difficult to make these decisions. They can no more decide on their lives, property, and family. In some instances, they will be abused both socially and sexually. The European legislative acts prevent such women from making any decision. Decisions made under such health condition should not be implemented. Such a woman is not allowed to hold any position in any European public office, sell or buy any property or make any business contracts (Kornstein, 2004). Marriages performed at the time of illness are not recognized. The responsibilities are awarded to the woman’s close relatives, children, and spouses, who are left to make some of the most private and confidential decision on behalf of the victims. This destroys the woman’s self-esteem and may remain long after the woman is back to her normal state of mind. Some people may still perceive them as mad and incapacitated individuals.
Depression has devastating outcome on the physical characteristics of the European women. The effects are displayed differently in different women. Some of the symptoms and effects are a clear indication that the woman is depressed, while others are alike to some other diseases.
Insomnia is a common physical effect of depression in women. The affected woman tends to have irregular deep sleep, which may be characterized by nightmares and filling of extreme fear. This occurs due to the overworking of the mind leading to high neuro activity. This type of sleep may cause embarrassment to the woman. They become unconscious of the environment and so can fall asleep in the public transport facilities, restaurants, and city gardens. If the woman is driving, it may lead to accidents, traffic jams, and delays. It may also cause some business losses, as the patient is not able to honor appointments due to time disregard.
Depressed women appear to be fatigued and inactive. This occurs due to high internal activity of organs, such as the brain and the heart. It may also be due to high blood pressure and general weakness of the body, caused by low body density common in depressed individuals. At this point, these women are unable to carry out the routine chores at home, to some of which they have a passion. Working females may become unproductive at work, these, if not checked and treated, can lead the victim to a deeper crisis.
As depression becomes deep seated in the woman, she tends to lose contact with her environment and with herself. They are unconscious of their responsibilities and maintenance practice. They start perceiving some vital activities and duties as less important. This is demonstrated when depressed women ignore their hygiene and decency, among other important things. The depressed woman may go for days without taking a bath. According to the western culture, personal hygiene is a vital issue. When person neglect this unwritten rule, he/she is likely to be rejected and avoided by other members of the same society.
Depressed women may also be unaware of their menstrual cycle and may become irritating by those close to them. This may put them under a threat of isolation, accelerating their already poor situation (Hoerder, 1996).
In breastfeeding women, the problem may be severe and may be passed over to the child. This happens due to the hormonal imbalance in the body of the mother, affecting milk production. This affects the child’s health, especially when the baby is fully dependent on the mother’s milk. Moreover, the depressed mother may totally deny their milk to the baby, leaving it at the mercy of foster mothers or artificial feeding procedures.
HIV/AIDS infected women are highly advised against self sympathy and stress, which may lead them to depression. If one of such women is depressed, her immunity tends to go down, and she is likely to experience severe consequences. It may drive such women to a state of denial. In some instances, they will defy the physician directives on medication.
Losing a beloved one by an already depressed woman will drive the woman to another level of depression, which is even more difficult to cope. The woman will find it difficult to accept the lose leading to long term psychological effects. In such cases, the woman will suffer withdrawal and may develop the tendency of hatred towards different factors. They will visit the deceased graves, sites of accidents, and even wait at some point hoping that their beloved one reappears. These may depress those living with the woman making the problem communal and more prevalent.
Women who have previously experienced depression are said to suffer personality disorders, which make life more difficult. They tend to be possessive, domineering; having dramatic mood swings, and are difficult to understand. These will lead them to break relationships on nonexistent basis. This will make them stay single for a long period of time or fail to marry at all. If this happens, the woman may drift back to her former state once again.
In Europe, women are economically productive, and their contribution to the wellbeing of their respective countries cannot be ignored. In case of depression, the woman power and ability may be curtailed, thus, having a direct impact on her financial standing. A depressed woman may be fired or suspended from work on medical grounds. Moreover, she may be banned from carrying out any financial transactions if proved that she is medically unfit to do so. Although this may serve to protect such woman from opportunistic elements, it may also put her in a compromising situation. She may be forced to rely on relatives, friends, and the government for assistance. This may go far in destroying her self-esteem worsening the situation.
Cases of mentally challenged women being abused by those close to them are common worldwide, and more so in Europe. A woman in advanced stages of depression may find it difficult to express herself and air her grievances (Blackwelder, 1998). This gives other people opportunities to abuse these women. In the past, they have been raped, assaulted, and others were killed. Although the European governments offer protection to this group of people, the vice is still common, and more need to be done.
Depression is a common phenomenon among women in Europe. Its effects are evident and devastating on the lives of females and their dependants. However, if more is done, the issue can be something of the past. Joint efforts can reduce the rate of suffering, experienced in families. Women have a great responsibility in eliminating this problem by being more open in expressing their social difficulties to the relevant authorities and close individuals. The family should be supportive to the victims in order to help them go through the healing process. They should avoid treating them harshly or isolating them, as this pushes the patients to greater heights of depression. It is upon the European governments to issue laws and policies to protect the mentally challenged women, and setting up of counseling and rescue centers to offer support to these individuals in need.