Depression disproportionately strikes women and older persons. Hence, older women constitute one of the populations most strongly affected by depression. The psychology of depression has historically received considerable attention, particularly as a disorder with an impact on women. A number of factors identify the depression phenomenon as arising as much from social influences as from the structure of individual emotional lives. At the same time, the results of medical research and medical treatment suggest a physiological basis for many, if not most, of the symptoms of depression. Treatments for depression try, in some instances, to address those physiological factors. In other instances, treatments attempt to address the complex of cognitive, behavioral and social factors that may underlie depression. It may be that depression as a recognizable disorder reflects the interaction of several elements in ways that at least partially explain its prevalance among older women.
The incidence of depression is markedly higher among females
than among males. Studies vary in the actual numbers they yield, but women across age groups are apparently about two times more likely than males to suffer from depression (Brown & Harris, 1978). Because almost every study of depression conducted in industrialized nations reveals a substantial sex difference in depression, researchers believe that there actually is a difference in the population and not some widespread flaw in depression research (Weissman & Klerman, 1977). Women predominate as sufferers of depression regardless of whether a given study samples from an ostensibly "normal" population or from populations based in outpatient or inpatient treatment settings. It can only be assumed that the higher incidence among women results largely from a combination of cultural, social, economic, and perhaps physiological factors.
There is a close relationship between d...