NEW YORK, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Fifteen percent of U.S. women between the ages of 45 and 64 experience frequent depression, a U.S. researcher says.
Katherine Muller, director of Psychological Training at Montefiore Medical Center, says recent research suggests the odds of being diagnosed with depression peak for women at age 44.
"When you're tense, levels of stress hormone cortisol go up," Muller tells Women's Day. "Cortisol affects the balance of mood chemicals in the brain in such a way that you're more susceptible to depression."
At this stage of a woman's life she is usually experiencing transitions and wholesale changes including having children leave for college, doubts about relationships, juggling careers, marriage, aging parents and over analyzing and concerns about "life so far," Muller says.
"Genetics is a major risk factor for developing a psychiatric disorder" so people with a family history should pay special attention to their behavior, Muller advises.
However, depression is very treatable and getting help in a combination of therapy and medications is a crucial step, Muller adds.
The November issue of Woman's Day, on newsstands Monday, offers a comprehensive report on the rise of midlife depression in women.