How can we support women to prevent them from slipping into depression?

 women's mental health, women's day, mental health concerns in women, women's health, women mental health issues, depression in women, anxiety in women, work stress in women.

Depression is the most common mental illness. Depression or major depressive disorder is characterized by constant depressed mood, loss of interest in activities and can also cause significant impairment and daily living. the research suggests that women are at higher risk of experiencing depression compared to men.
There are many causes for depression like family history, some illness, or health issues, substance use, one's personality but for women, there are many other factors that may increase women's risk of depression. Apart from biological factors inherited traits and personal lives and circumstances here are what contributes to depression in women:

  • PUBERTY - hormone changes during the proof puberty may lead to mood swings related to the fluctuating hormones during puberty which are considered to be normal and cannot alone cause depression. although the other experiences around puberty like emerging sexuality and identity issues, conflict with parents or increasing pressure of achievement may often play a role in the depression.
  • PREMENSTRUAL PROBLEMS - PMS or premenstrual syndrome is mostly found in females before their menstrual cycle but for a small number of females they have it very serious and has a tendency to disrupt their daily activities. and to point in time it also turns out to be premenstrual dysphoric disorder PMDD a type of depression that generally requires treatment. Although the exact interaction between depression and the PMS remains unclear.
  • PREGNANCY- As we are all aware of dramatic hormonal changes that can affect the mood drastically during pregnancy. But there is also another risk of developing depression during the pregnancy or when attempting to become pregnant, such as miscarriage, infertility, lack of support, relationship problems, maybe ongoing mental health concerns.
  • POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION- 10- 15% of new mums suffer from postpartum depression it is a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical assistance. Although for some moms the symptoms like crying spells, difficulty in caring for new born, thoughts of suicide or harming the baby, and difficulty in sleeping subside in a span of two weeks.
  • PRE MENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE- At this stage of women's life may not be a cause of depression but the symptoms that a woman faces due to hormonal levels that fluctuate erratically may increase the risk of depression in them.
    Other life circumstances and cultural differences may also be considered as a factor that may increase the risk of depression in women which may also include an unequal power and status, more workload, underpaid, sexual or physical abuse.

Although there is no one sure way to help prevent depression. As a society,

  • We can help women find ways to handle stress and improve on self-esteem.
  • We can encourage them to seek other support for their well-being.
  • We can also find ways to be a strong support system to women as family and friends.
  • Making all the stages of their life a little easier and manageable like puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Society can always bring in more and more awareness and non-judgmental communication to with all these areas of life for women.
  • Sharing their load of responsibility as much as possible such as, care for children, care towards elderly family members, and her own self-care.
  • Keeping a check on their mental health as a preventive measure will help in early intervention.
  • Look for any signs and symptoms of self-harm if there has been any traumatic event that has occurred.
  • Supporting them to come out of any kind of abuse.
  • To show them that they are loved and cared for.
  • As we have limitations, we can educate them more about self-care as it is an effective prevention method.

Self-care is when we put conscious effort in order to take care of our own self in all the verticals mental health, physical health, and as well as emotional health.

Here are a few tips you can use for self-care:

Physical health:

  • Engaging in healthy eating habits, with a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water.
  • Get enough sleep each night (7-8 hours).
  • Keep your body active with any form of exercise.
  • Make sure that you take short breaks to stretch yourself out.
  • Avoid any form of substance use as it increases the risk of depression or any mental illness.
  • Spend time outside, visit a park or social often with your friends, or maybe take small affordable tours.

Mental health:

  • Routine is key to consistency.
  • Look for things that are in your control instead of what is not.
  • Lookout for maintaining connections with your loved ones.
  • Practice mindfulness and write or say things that you are grateful for that day.
  • Engage in things that help you reduce stress like reading, listening to music.
  • Lean on your instinct and faith for support.
  • Helping others in the community helps your emotional health and boost your self-esteem.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate people around you.

If one observes signs and symptoms of depression it is always suggested to seek help from a mental health professional like a mental health therapist /counsellor or a psychiatrist .

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Image credits: Freepik

Author
Niti Sonawala
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