Depression in Women

Indigenous Women’s Reproductive Watch

Depression in Women

 by Anne Crabtree

What is Depression?

Feeling sad from time to time is part of human nature. Every person experiences sadness on some level on and off throughout his or her lifetime. However, when those sad feelings interfere with daily life and make it difficult for a person to work, form and maintain lasting, meaningful relationships, and simply enjoy life, this is depression.Many people experiencing symptoms of depression may also have symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder as well. In 82% of cases, depression was found along with anxiety disorders. Depression is the most prevalent psychiatric disorder among Native women and is associated with urban residence & substance abuse. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, “The amount of disability caused by depression has been found to be as great as or greater than the disability caused by common medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and gastrointestinal problems.” 2Depression is often recognized by its psychological symptoms, which include persistent sad feelings, loss of interest in regular activities and hobbies, trouble with concentration, feelings of worthlessness, and desires to commit suicide. However, about 45 to 95 percent of people living with depression only experience physical symptoms that do not go away, even if treated. These can include joint pain, neck pain, back pain, abdominal pain, fatigue, headaches, weakness, and insomnia. A combination of several of these symptoms is also common. 

Causes/Risks of Depression

There are multiple factors that put a person at risk of depression or depressive episodes. These include but are not limited to:

Ways to Manage Depression

Minor depression can be treated very effectively with medication and counseling, but there are alternative methods available as well. If you have a more severe form of depression, however, it is recommended that you consider medication and counseling in addition to these methods. These may not make your depression go away altogether, but may make it easier to live with, and are best used together as part of an overall healthy lifestyle:

Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. You are not the only person living with depression, and there are resources and support systems available to you. If ever you feel suicidal or are afraid you might hurt yourself, or know someone who might be suicidal and living with depression, these hotlines (at least) are here to help:

Suicide prevention hotlines:


 -1-800-273-TALK (8255)

-1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

For more information, check out these sources:

*-Women and Depression: Discovering Hope, a publication from the National Institute of Mental Health

*-Public Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ 9), what physicians use to diagnose depression; can be found online and self-administered

Sources Cited

1. “What are the basic signs and symptoms of depression?” National Institute of Mental Health. 2011.

2. “Prevalence & correlates of mental disorders among Native American women in primary care.” B. Duran. American Journal of Public Health.

3. “Screening for Depression.” Douglas M. Maurer, D.O. Journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians. January 15, 2012.

4. “Reconceptualizing Native Women’s Health.” Karina L. Walters, PhD, and Jane Simoni, PhD. American Journal of Public Health. 2002.

5. “Tribes Take on Youth Suicide With Skits, Ceremonies and Mustangs.” Stephanie Woodard. Indian Country Today Media Network.  January 9,

6 “Substance use among American Indian and Alaska natives: incorporating culture in an “indigenist” stress-coping paradigm.” Karina L. Walters, Jane M. Simoni, and Teresa Evans-Campbell. Public Health Reports. 2002.

7. South Dakota Suicide & Crisis Hotlines. Meadow Lark Press.

8. Women and Depression: Discovering Hope. National Institute of Mental