Can cause depression on its own

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One likes to look for the cause of a depression in the hormones or genes or one says "Women are just sensitive". This is too easy to think, says Ursula Nuber - women are twice as likely to be depressed as men and there are solid reasons for this.

Relationship and partnership

According to Nuber, the main culprits of depression in women are their special life circumstances, their special burdens, but also the nature and quality of their relationships. If you ask depressed women, the majority of them tell you about problems in the partnership, about unhappiness, about not feeling safe and secure.

Women suffer much more clearly than men from bad relationships. And you can see that, for example - as studies show - that married women have a higher risk of depression than married men. Men are often significantly more satisfied in their relationships than women are.

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Women have different stresses

Ursula Nuber's two major theses are that women are stressed differently in their lives than men and that women always blame themselves when something goes wrong between people. These two main strands also appear again and again in practice.

In contrast to men, women's stress is mostly relationship stress. Women are very relationship-oriented, they need a lot of contact and closeness to relationships. This is also due to socialization - girls are brought up differently and grow up differently than boys.

And because of this relationship orientation, women are also in a particular stress. Women want relationships to work and believe that they are responsible for making them work. As a result, women often do a lot for the relationship.


Other stress factors that predominantly affect women are: chronic lack of time and the pressure that they have to do everything perfectly.

In addition, there is motherhood, being a single parent and caring for old relatives. Much rests on the shoulders of women and less on the shoulders of men. But that alone does not lead to depression.

Depression occurs when a woman feels like she is not getting anything in return, giving and giving, but can take little. When she feels like she is not valued and is always talking against a wall, feeling alone in her relationships and unhappy. If so, women's particular stress levels can actually lead to depression.

Genes, Personality, and Hormones

The genes, personality and hormones can also trigger depression. For Nuber, however, the absoluteness with which many experts look at these factors is not correct. There is also no evidence of this.

Many women have hormone problems or disorders during puberty, menopause, after having a child, but that alone does not make them depressed. Of course, there is also the genetic factor that plays a role, but it also plays a role in male depressives. This does not explain the double risk of depression for women.

Very little research has been done on stress and relationships as a trigger for depression. Therefore, the proportion of women for whom this plays a role cannot be quantified. The experience of the psychologist Nuber shows, however, that these stress factors can always be determined in the life of a woman who is depressed or in danger of being depressed.

More courage to be angry

Nuber sees a sign of depression above all as a factor. Women who run the risk of getting depressed usually fall into the "niceness trap". They try to do everything right and put themselves back for the sake of peace.

They say "yes" when they mean "no", they don't show their anger or disappointment, they don't want to risk anything. And that is exactly what leads to depression.

From Ursula Nuber's point of view, depression is something of an aggression disease. Aggression that is actually directed against someone else is directed against oneself. Then that's depression. In this respect, the psychologist advises women in this situation to learn to raise their voices, turn up the volume a little louder and say "I" more clearly in their relationships and perhaps a little less "we".

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The way out of depression

It is best for women to seek professional help to help them find their way out of depression. For Nuber, the most important thing is always, whether alone or with support, that your own self-esteem is strengthened.

The woman should learn to relate to herself. Relationships are important, but relationships aren't everything either. And above all, her relationship with herself is important first of all, that she treats herself with care, has compassion for herself, that she can be good friends with herself. Then she can give it to others in the next step. But women often get lost in relationships with others and then completely neglect themselves.

Treatment of depression in men

Nuber also sees treatment for depression in women differently than treatment in men. With depressed women it is mostly about strengthening the ego and self-esteem. For men, it's more about finding access to their feelings.

Men are more likely to suffer from depression if they have performance problems, if work does not work out that way, if they have the feeling, so to speak, that they "don't stand up to their husbands". Then they often cannot get close to their feelings and often do not know exactly what is wrong with them. Many then also resort to alcohol. When treating depressed men, the psychologist tries to get them into contact with their feelings, that they can name them and also allow them to be.

Burnout or Depression?

Nuber does not see the fact that nowadays more and more distinctions are made between burnout and depression as not a good development. Burnout - the disease of high achievers - is more likely to be attributed to men, as women take everyday work for granted and ignore it.

For Nuber, women are the top performers and if someone suffers from burnout, it is more women because they have to cope with their particular stressors in life.

Petra Haubner in conversation with Ursula Nuber

Do you or people around you need help in a psychologically stressed situation or are you mentally ill?

You will find information and support not only in crisis situations with the following offers:

0800 1110111 or 0800 1110222: The telephone counseling is free, anonymous and available around the clock. The offer of the Christian churches also advises people without denomination. Advice and help via email and chat via

0800 3344533: The information phone of the German Depression Aid, on whose website information and advice is collected.

The Federal Association of Relatives of the Mentally Ill offers information and advice by email and chat on its website, as well as the SeeleFon, a telephone hotline.