Pregnancy and infertility. The many hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can contribute to depression, particularly in women already at high risk. Other issues relating to pregnancy such as miscarriage, unwanted pregnancy, and infertility can also play a role in depression.
Postpartum depression. It’s not uncommon for new mothers to experience the “baby blues.” This is a normal reaction that tends to subside within a few weeks. However, some women experience severe, lasting depression. This condition is called postpartum depression and is thought to be influenced, at least in part, by hormonal fluctuations.
Menopause and perimenopause. Women may be at increased risk for depression during perimenopause, the stage leading to menopause when reproductive hormones rapidly fluctuate. Women with past histories of depression are at an increased risk of depression during menopause as well.
The female physiological response to stress. Women produce more stress hormones than men, and the female sex hormone progesterone prevents the stress hormone system from turning itself off as it does in men. This can make women more susceptible to developing depression triggered by stress.
Body image issues which increase in girls during the sexual development of puberty may contribute to depression in adolescence.
Thyroid problems. Since hypothyroidism can cause depression, this medical problem should always be ruled out by a physician.
Medication side effects from birth control medication or hormone replacement therapy.
Health problems. Chronic illness, injury, or disability can lead to depression in women, as can crash dieting or quitting smoking.