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UPMC Media Relations

​UPMC Program Offers Help For Women With Depression

PITTSBURGH, April 7, 1998 — Women have twice the risk of developing depression than men, no matter their race, education, income level or occupation. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic has developed a treatment program that studies the special problems and needs of women with depression. The purpose of this research study is to determine whether an increased frequency of psychotherapy can prevent recurrence of depression in women who have a history of the illness.

While it is normal to feel blue now and then, especially during difficult times, if the feelings of sadness last more than a few weeks, an individual may be suffering from depression. Depression is the most common and the most treatable of all mental illnesses. Clinical depression is a complex illness that can be triggered by many things. It has been associated with the loss of a loved one, physical illness, job changes and hormone changes related to pregnancy or menopause. Women are faced with additional environmental stresses that may leave them more vulnerable to depression than men. Many women must cope with employment discrimination, single parenthood and conflicts between work and home. Early treatment for depression is vital because the more episodes a woman has, the greater her chance of becoming depressed again.

According to doctors at UPMC, women need special treatment for depression because not all women wish to or are able to take medications. A series of studies has shown that a type of psychotherapy called interpersonal therapy (IPT) can relieve depression symptoms without the use of medication. Through IPT, a therapist can help a depressed person understand their illness and how depression affects their personal relationships. Researchers have found that IPT can protect women against new episodes of depression.

Anyone who has four or more of the following symptoms may have depression and should seek professional help:

  • Noticeable change in sleep or appetite;

  • Loss of interest and pleasure in activities formerly enjoyed;

  • Loss of energy, fatigue;

  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or unreasonable guilt;

  • Difficulty concentrating, thinking clearly or making decisions; or

  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

For more information about University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s depression treatment program for women, call 412-624-1000. All calls are confidential.

For more information about psychiatry or to learn about current research studies, visit the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic Web site.


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