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Depression is one of the most treatable diseases doctors see, yet millions of women suffering from the disease are not getting the treatment they need.
In the latest issue of the National Women's Health Report: Women & Depression, the National Women's Health Resource Center looks at why that is so and what can be done about it.
In interviews with Harvard researchers who authored a recent major national study detailing the rampant treatment inadequacies in the area of depression, and in interviews with women who have battled major depression themselves, the National Women's Health Resource Center gets behind the headlines to find out the truth for women and how they can get the help they need.
Readers hear from women like Esther Nitzberg. It took visits to every therapist and psychiatrist in the small Oregon town where she lives before Nitzberg finally found what she calls "a straight-talking psychiatrist who is willing to give me low doses of medication in the combinations that really work best for me." Her husband, a family practitioner, for years had remained blind to her depression.
Readers also hear from the experts. "There is a real gender difference," says Carolyn M. Mazure, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and director of women's health research at Yale. Depression affects women almost twice as often as men. Maybe it's that women's hormones affect certain brain chemicals that regulate mood. Maybe it's that life's stresses - the death of a spouse, loss of a job, or divorce - affect women differently.
Mazure has found for women, stress is three times more likely to send women into a depression than men. There even may be a genetic component to the response.
"Women and Depression" reports the good news. Gordon found that there are ways women can get the care they need. They are in the 12-page newsletter "Women and Depression." There is a list of questions women should ask their healthcare provider. There is also a guide to the antidepressant medications now on the market. A special section gives readers get insight into how depression affects women at various stages of their lives.
For a free copy of "Women and Depression," call 1-877-986-9472 or log on to www.healthywomen.org, the Web site of the National Women's Health Resource Center. This article was prepared by Health & Medicine Week editors from staff and other reports.
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