Men and women will experience mental health conditions in different ways. Some conditions, such as depression and anxiety are more common in women than in men, while others are completely specific to women, such as PPD Syndrome. While also being a type of depression, the postpartum depression syndrome will only be experienced by women, as a result of giving birth, and it can develop in much more complicated mental health conditions, if untreated. Social, economic and biological factors seem to contribute to women’s mental health and their predisposition to develop such conditions.
Warning Signs of Mental Health Conditions in Women
While males and females will experience the same mental health issues, the symptoms in the two categories usually differ enormously. Women will face most frequently the issues below.
- A persistent feeling of hopelessness or sadness;
- Sensitive changes in sleeping or eating habits;
- Weight loss;
- Substance abuse;
- Social withdrawal;
- Excessive fear;
- Increased fatigue;
- A series of aches and digestive issues, affections that don’t have any apparent causes.
These are some of the most common manifestations of mental health disorders among women. These may be caused by a series of favouring factors, as described below.
Favouring Factors for Mental Health Issues in Women
The causes that lead to mental disorders in men and women differ enormously. Also, women tend to be more frequently diagnosed with such conditions than men, because they are exposed to a series of factors that favour the evolution of the diseases from this spectrum. An Oxford University study showed that women are by 40% more likely to develop such conditions.
- Stressful life experiences, trauma and gender-based discrimination are some of the multiple causes of depression and anxiety conditions among women. Sexual assault seems to be at the top of the list of traumas that women may experience throughout their lives and negatively impact their trajectory. One in four women has been subjected to an attempt of sexual assault, at least once in their lives. One in three has reported being assaulted by a domestic partner. Trauma of this kind is one of the causing factors for a wide range of mental health issues in women, especially Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. Gendered discrimination, gendered violence, mistreatment at the job and even in medical offices might also contribute to the large ratios of women suffering from such conditions.
- Hormonal fluctuations are also one of the favouring factors that lead to depression and anxiety disorders in women. Hormonal differences in men and women seen to make latter category experience with a higher frequency such predicaments. Women usually tend to produce lower levels of serotonin than men do. Serotonin is commonly known as the happiness hormone and lower levels of it might lead to a feeling of hopelessness. Another possible link between female hormone fluctuations and mental health issues has been discovered by the scientists at University College London; the research targeted 41 women aged from 18 to 35 years, with regular menstrual cycles, none of them using hormonal contraception. The study showed that women in the luteal phase of their menstrual cycles (day 15 to 21) were having more intrusive thoughts than those women in the early phases of their menstrual cycles. This particularly narrow window in women’s menstrual cycles makes them more vulnerable to mental health issues. While this will help specialists understand better such conditions in women, it will also make it possible to deliver better treatment and develop suitable therapies.
- Pregnancy, parenting and birth are usually associated with higher chances to develop such conditions. The psychological changes that appear in women with pregnancy and birth cannot be overseen. 20% of fresh mothers suffer from post-partum depression or clinical depression after birth. Fresh mothers might also experience post-partum anxiety and OCD conditions, and in some severe cases, post-partum psychosis. These conditions are not only dangerous to the mother, but also to the infant as the mother might fail to properly feed, bathe and change their babies. While the mental state of the fresh mother is a factor, cultural and social factors also contribute to developing pregnancy-associated mental disorders.
Mental disorders can be treated. Asking for help at the general practitioner’s office is the first step. Some women find help in psychic chat sessions. Experts recommend proper diagnosis and treatment. Medication and therapy are important steps in controlling such disorders. Self-management strategies are also suitable for a more expansive approach, and these should always accompany medication and therapy. Nutrition, proper sleep, physical activity, social support and attending support groups, these will all increase the living quality standard for women struggling with mental disorders.
Understanding the economic, social and biological factors that contribute to the development of these conditions in women will help the medical world develop better treatments, therapies and medications for a better, more effective management of those, and the Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect occasion to address these matters.
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