Factsheet: Depression in WomenContrary to popular belief, clinical depression is not a “normal part of being a woman” nor is it a “female weakness.” Depressive illnesses are serious medical illnesses that affect more than 19 million American adults age 18 and over each year.i Depression is a treatable medical illness that can occur in any woman, at any time, and for various reasons regardless of age, race or income.
Fortunately, clinical depression is a very treatable illness. More than 80 percent of people with depression can be treated successfully with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. iii
Women’s Attitudes Toward Depression
According to a Mental Health America survey xiv on public attitudes and beliefs about clinical depression:
i National Institute of Mental Health: “The Numbers Count: Mental Illness in America,” Science on Our Minds Fact Sheet Series. Accessed August 1999.
ii National Institute of Mental Health, Unpublished Epidemiological Catchment Area Analyses, (1999).
iii National Institute of Mental Health: “Depression: Treat it. Defeat it.” Accessed June 1999.
iv National Institute of Mental Health, D/ART Campaign: “Depression: What Every Woman Should Know,” (1995). Pub No. 95-3871.
v Kandel DB, Davies M: “Epidemiology of Depressive Mood in Adolescents: An Empirical Study,” Archives of General Psychiatry 1982; 39:1205-1212.
vi National Institute of Mental Health. “Women Hold Up Half the Sky,” Updated June 1999.
vii Seidman D: “Postpartum Psychiatric Illness: The Role of the Pediatrician,” Pediatrics in Review, 19 (1998):128-131.
viii Willcox M, Stattler, DN: “The Relationship Between Disorders and Depression,” The Journal of Social Psychology 1996; 136:269.
ix National Institute of Mental Health: “Co-Occurrence of Depression with Medical, Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Disorders,”
Accessed July 1999. Netscape: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/depression/co_occur/abuse.htm
x Horton JA: “A Profile of Women’s Health in the United States,” The Women’s Health Data Book, 2nd ed., Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, 1995.
xi National Institute of Mental Health. “Helpful Facts About Depressive Illnesses,” (1994). Pub. No. 94-3875. Accessed June 1999.
xii McGrath E, Keita GP, Strickland BR, Russo NF: “Women and Depression: Risk Factors and Treatment Issues. Washington, DC, American Psychological Association, 1990.
xiii Rupp A, Gause E, Regier D: “Research Policy Implications of Cost-of-Illness Studies for Mental Disorders,” British Journal of Psychiatry Suppl 1998; 36:19-25.
xiv National Mental Health Association, “American Attitudes about Clinical Depression and its Treatment,” (March 27, 1996).
For More Information:For help finding treatment, support groups, medication information, help paying for your medications, your local Mental Health America affiliate, and other mental health-related services in your community, please contact us.
If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24 hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.
Page last updated: 3/8/2009