Vulnerabilities and Coping Strategies for Depression in Women

Lifetime major depressions are nearly twice as prevalent for women than men (21.3 percent vs. 12.7 percent). This is partly due to gender differences that predispose women to more vulnerabilities to depression.

Some of these vulnerabilities include:

  • Women are more likely to ruminate (to think carefully or deeply about something)
  • Have more objectified body consciousness (OBC) – when one observes and critiques their own body and feels shame and other negative emotions if their body does not conform to perceived cultural views of the ideal body image
  • These are cognitive or mental factors that usually occur by early adolescence

When these vulnerabilities interact with negative life events, they can cause depression. Self-esteem also puts women at risk for the development of depressive symptoms. In many cases, a woman’s self-esteem depends on interpersonal relationships. Some examples include:

  • Seeking reassurance from others to feel worthwhile and lovable
  • Adopting rigid interpersonal rules, such as needing to please and be liked by everyone in order to feel worthwhile
  • Negative interpersonal events
  • Brooding (showing deep unhappiness of thought) leading to comparisons and unreasonable expectations for the self and others
  • Women tend to be more negatively affected by daily life stressors

Good News! What can help?

  • Focus on coping strategies to decrease rumination, brooding and negative thinking and improve self-esteem
  • Focus on coping strategies to increase reflection and problem-solving and decrease impulsive behaviors
  • Increase positive social supports
  • Learn coping strategies to manage the depressive symptoms instead of coping strategies that maintain and increase the severity of the depressive symptoms
  • Seek support groups for problems with body image

Source: Danette Conklin, PhD, psychologist, Mood Disorder Program, University Hospitals Department of Psychiatry

More Information

To learn more about UH Women’s Health Institute, or to speak to a navigator, please call 440-720-3262.

Need to Refer a Patient?

Click here for Patient Referrals

Browse Services A-Z

Maps and Directions

Click here for directions