What factors in life affect women's mental health? How can one deal with it?
Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Some mental health conditions occur more often in women and can play a significant role in the state of a woman’s overall health.
Let’s take a closer look at understanding the women’s brain and body to differentiate these responses to mental illness.
- Biological influences – Female hormonal fluctuations are known to play a role in mood and depression.
- Socio-cultural influences – Despite strides in gender equality, women still face challenges when it comes to socio-economic power, status, position, and dependence, which can contribute to depression and other disorders.
Major life transitions such as pregnancy, motherhood, and menopause can create physical and emotional stresses for women. Negative life experiences like infertility and perinatal loss, poverty, discrimination, violence, unemployment, and isolation, also impact women’s mental health and well-being. Unequal economic and social conditions also contribute to women’s higher risk of depression.
Let’s take a closer look at it.
- Menopause can increase the risk of developing mental health issues. Hormone changes can lead to irritability and can contribute to depression and anxiety. Changes in the hormonal levels can also result in a range of physical challenges such as hot flushes, night sweats, disturbed sleep patterns all of which can affect mental health.
- Pregnancy - It’s not uncommon for women to experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after the birth of a baby. Up to 1 in 10 women experience depression while they are pregnant and 1 in 6 women experience depression during the first year after birth. Anxiety conditions are thought to be as common with many women experiencing both conditions at the same time. Adjusting to major life changes as well as coping with the daily life challenges of early motherhood can leave some women more likely to experience depression or anxiety particularly if they’ve experienced depression or anxiety in the past.
- Infertility and perinatal loss – Infertility and miscarriages is an experience that affects many people and for some, the desire to be a parent is not fulfilled. These losses can have a devastating impact on the emotional and mental wellbeing of women who have a strong desire to be a mother. Grief associated with these losses is often not acknowledged. Without acknowledgment or support, a woman can be left feeling lost and alone which can impact their mental health.
- Discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity – Women who identify as lesbians, bisexual, and other sexualities experience higher rates of anxiety and depression than heterosexual women. These women are at greater risk of suicide and self-harm if they experience discrimination, exclusion, bullying, and abuse. The risk of mental health issues can also increase if they do not have family or community support. Transgender women and other gender-diverse people have also been shown to experience high rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide risk as a result of experiencing barriers to support, discrimination and exclusion.
- Violence or Abuse - Experiences of violence and assault as well as emotional, physical, and sexual abuse have devastating effects on women’s health and well-being. This can include depression and anxiety, drug and alcohol misuse, suicidal thoughts or attempts, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Often, due to fear and a belief, there are no options, women stay in relationships that cause them significant pain and distress. It is important for people to remember that they are not responsible for the abusive behavior of others and that necessary help is available.
- Relationship breakdown – Women who are separated, divorced, or widowed are more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. It is normal to feel upset or sad following a relationship breakdown or to lose pleasure in your usual activities. When these feelings persist and start to impact your daily life, it is time to talk to someone about how you are feeling and reach out for support.
How to improve mental health for women?
Good mental health doesn’t necessarily mean being happy all the time. Women with good mental health can experience happiness, sadness, anger, and excitement all in healthy ways. A few tips to improve mental health are listed below.
- Practice mindfulness and gratitude
- Exercise and Quality sleep
- Healthy appetite and participating in activities you enjoy
- Connecting to loved ones and socializing
- Talk to a mental health professional – Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s part of taking charge of your well being
If you think you or someone you love is facing mental health challenges, you should seek help and support. Mental health care providers can connect you with the resources that can help you learn new habits and cope with stress in a healthy manner.
Some of the centres to avail psychological consultation in Mumbai are:
Mpower- The Centre, Hughes road
1/155, 15, Nyaymurti Sitaram
Patkar Marg, Khareghat
Colony, Hughes Road,
Mumbai - 400 007.
+91 22 2385 6228,
+91 97028 00044
Mpower - The Foundation, Tardeo
22B, Vasantrao N Naik Marg,
Opp. Bhatia Hospital, Tardeo,
Mumbai - 400 007.
+91 22 2386 8650,
+91 22 2387 5147,
+91 81087 99299
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What are the common mental health issues in women?
Image credits - Freepik