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Depression in women: diagnostic and treatment considerations.

Women experience depression twice as often as men. The diagnostic criteria for depression are the same for both sexes, but women with depression more frequently experience guilt, anxiety, increased appetite and sleep, weight gain and comorbid eating disorders. Women may achieve higher plasma concentrations of antidepressants and thus may require lower dosages of these medications. Depending on the patient's age, the potential effects of antidepressants on a fetus or neonate may need to be considered. Research indicates no increased teratogenic risk from in utero exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants. SSRIs are effective in treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder and many comorbid conditions associated with depression in women. Psychotherapy may be used alone in women with mild to moderate depression, or it may be used adjunctively with antidepressant drug therapy. Women who have severe depression accompanied by active suicidal thoughts or plans should usually be managed in conjunction with a psychiatrist.

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