Mental Health and Women : Anxiety and Depression
Loss due to Depression and Anxiety : Mental Health
“I have anxiety. And I’m treating my anxiety. I’m on medication for my anxiety. Why am I saying this? Because it’s a completely normal thing. It’s a biological problem. In my family, there have been cases of depression. More and more people, should talk openly about it. There is nothing shameful about it or something to hide. If you had a constant stomach pain, wouldn’t you go to the doctor? It’s that simple. I want to make this my mission, to take any shame out of this, to educate people about this ~ Anushka Sharma
Exactly, why to disdain Mental health and cover it up with the physical health? I wept on the news of suicide by elegant Kate Spade and it was not enough that the sudden (but not so sudden) news of Anthony Bourdain poured in and twitteratis were taken aback. It was said that Anthony reached out for help before he died, but he did not take the doctor’s advice. A lil later, another news of publicist Jeanine Pepler who committed suicide popped up. All three took nearly the same route for suicide. Why??
Though they had everything in life, an elegant appeal, popularity, well balanced finances, but somewhere they were not emotionally stable and were fighting with something harsh deep inside. And it would have been really hard for them to take this extreme step. Their colourful life was becoming darker and darker which none could see through.
Nothing is more depressing than having everything and still feeling really sad!!
What is Depression ?
Related read : Tips on how to fight depression and anxiety
Celebrities like Karan Johar, Ranveer singh, Dipika Padukone, Ileana D’Cruz have faced these saddening black holes in their lives and have openly spoken about depression. Halle Berry spoke about her mental health after her marriage to baseball player David Justice broke off.
If you or someone you know is in an emotional distress or suicidal, please check out these suicide helplines in India.
Today, Its a talk about Mental Health, why Anxiety and depression is more prone in women, and how to slowly come out of this deadly trap. Depression is the most common disorder and it is a resultant of biological, environmental, genetic, and psychological factors. It cannot be tagged to a specific age bracket, but usually it can start from adolescence and become more chronic during adulthood. Usually it starts as an anxiety in children and converts into severe depression later on.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety involves very significant feelings of being anxious clubbed with phobia. Normal anxiousness is okay, but in anxiety disorder, people are backed by worry and fear. Here a small anxiety builds up with time and people consistently fear of some “present happenings” and worry about the future ones. These feelings interfere in our daily life activities and handicap them to a high degree.
Why are anxiety and depression more common in women?
Women and men are differently wired not just physically but even psychologically. The approach of a men and women while dealing with success, relationships, feelings, stress is lot different. While women tend to internatize their feelings, men on the same platform externalize them. This creates a huge difference in the way the stress, anxiety gets woven in the lives of women.
Basis ample researches, the symptoms of depression and anxiety, are twice or thrice more common in women compared to men. Also, females have a higher degree of severity when it comes to anxiety disorders.
Praggatti Rao, a Child & Adolescent Psychologist and Psychometric Analyst says – “In my experience, anxiety majorly stems from family history of anxiety in one or both parents. It is majorly OBSERVATIONAL in nature where they observe the parents cope in a certain manner. Though there are many factors today from online mediums to real life stressors to being a perfectionist, which add on to the anxiety levels . It will be surprising to know that anxiety is most common even more common than depression. But with timely intervention and a few strategies that vary from case to case , it is pretty manageable.”
Reasons why women are more susceptible to mental disorders as Anxiety and Depression:
1. Hormonal factors :
The hormonal changes in the life of a women makes them more vulnerable towards Mental Illness. The cyclic shifts in women’s life can result in malfunction and create mental diseases. Starting from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (onset of periods) to Mental disturbances during late pregnancy to menopause, these cyclic hormonal changes sometimes are devastating. Women experience PostPartum depression usually during late pregnancy and after baby birth. The feelings of extreme exhaustion, sadness, less time for self, more anxiety and worries related to caring the new born often grips a new mom.
Later, menopause causes lots of emotional and psychological drains. Often menopause is accompanied by depression and a woman needs to have a strong support and an optimistic environment at this moment.
It is also said, that Women are more prone to stress than men because their increased levels of progesterone. Progesterone prevents stress hormones from being flushed out.
2. Social factors :
Life of women is often accompanied with lots of sacrifices at various stages of life. Women usually internalize their thoughts and feelings, while men distract themselves or shake off when such feelings grip in their thoughts. This results in greater susceptibility of women towards these disorders.
3. Psychological factors :
Often abuse, physical violence, harassment, work-life balance, Financial troubles, loss in relationships or disturbances in relations create a deep impact on the mindset of a women. Harassment, abuse, violence can all lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).These factors often lead to depression in adulthood and mid life. Even girls from nuclear families and women who get married at a very young age are at a higher risk of depression and prone to self-harm.
4. Life stressors & Societal Factors :
Women face a lot of Life stressors as child birth, being a carer to child, caring for elders and sick in the family. Even in the professional world, women have to fight when it comes to the wages, promotions, recognitions, no matter how diligently they put across their work. Things are changing, honestly, but a lot more needs to be done at workplaces. Their personal and professional struggles drain them emotionally and loads them with stress. With consistent saddening environment and these hormonal changes, Mental illness easily grips a women’s life.
Also, in Indian society, women have less autonomy when it comes to decision making, be it personal, family or professional decisions. These gaps along with other stated pointers when associated results in occurrence of depression.
5. Impact of Social Media :
Praggatti shares, “Stuart Crabb , a Director at facebook gave the following analogy to TIMES for social media and its impact on mental health.” IF YOU PUT A FROG IN COLD WATER AND SLOWLY TURN ON THE HEAT IT WILL BOIL TO DEATH”. Its important to understand that the time spent on social media affects our perceptions around life and it affects our relationships, our performances at work and overall quality of life. With social media, The pressure to be popular or cool, higher expectations from life, unabated competitiveness accrue and is overloaded with stress. All inadequately managed stress can lead to withdrawal, anxiety, aggression and physical illness.
Social media is causing more harm to relations now than ever in the past.
Symptoms of these mental disorders :
- Persistent sadness or hopelessness along with loneliness
- Changes in Appetite (usually it enhances) and weight changes
- Lack of energy for even day to day activities
- Consistent fear in the back of mind
- Feeling of being a failure or a loser or unloved
- Changes in sleeping habits, often accompanied by Insomnia
- Resorting to drugs, liquor for mental satisfaction
- Too frequent mood fluctuations, mostly irritation, guilt, sadness
- Social phobia and withdrawal
- Anxiety on what “others” will say and having feelings of embarrassment or rejections from “Society”.
- Unable to speak to friends or make new friends
- Getting anxious at work or while working in a group.
- Panic attacks and suicidal thoughts
For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and many of the time, if left untreated, it worsens with time. These negative feelings interfere with daily activities such as house work, professional performance, school work, way of handling kids and a downfall in relationships.
Let’s all understand that mental illnesses are not uncommon. Visiting a psychiatrist is not a crime, it is a step to sort out the negatives early in the life. If left untreated, mental illness can result in multitude of other problems. Thus, identifying them and treating them is extremely important. In our next post, we take on the Solutions for Anxiety and Depression.
Read the solutions for anxiety and depression here.
Be Happy, this life is yours, Be the true yourself.
[Disclaimer : This piece of information should not be taken a medical advice. If you any such symptoms, do refer a medical practitioner. The views here are basis the author’s experiences and discussions with Psychiatrists.]