The month of May presents World Maternal Mental Health day that occurred on May 4th, as well as Women’s Health month in the United States, and Mental Health Month. For this blog, let’s look at all of these together.
Generalized Mental Health
Our emotional, psychological, and social well-being all contribute to our mental health. It has an impact on how we think, feel, and act. It also influences how we deal with stress, interact with people, and make decisions. Mental health is essential at all stages of life, all the way from infancy through to adulthood. Mental health issues may have a significant impact on many aspects of life, including education, work productivity, relationships with friends and family, and capacity to engage in community activities. Many variables have a role in mental health issues, including:
- Family history of mental health related problems
- Factors that have to do with biological make-up, such as the chemistry in your brain or your genes
- Past life experiences that involved abuse or certain types of trauma
Often we find ourselves struggling to cope with our mental health, and in reality there are many little, or big things we can do or change in order to create a better state of mental well-being. To do so it should be considered that you get in the habit of being more active, creating a more healthy diet, take breaks as needed to avoid over-working yourself, and talking to someone about how your feeling, and ultimately asking for help.
Women’s Mental Health
Women and men are affected differently by mental illnesses. Some illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, are more frequent in women. There are also certain illnesses that are only found in women. For instance, during periods of hormonal transition, certain women may develop symptoms of mental illnesses such as prenatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopause-related sadness. Moreover, even with illnesses that are common in both men and women, women tend to experience these mental health issues in a different way. Here are some facts about women’s mental health as found in Homewood Health:
- 47% of women were considered at high risk of developing mental health disorders, compared to 36% of men.
- 25.7% of young women have self-harmed – more than twice the rate of young men.
- Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression.
- Women who have experience childhood trauma such as sexual abuse and physical violence are 3 to 4 times more likely to encounter depression as adults.
- Women tend to experience more concurrent mental health disorders. Depression might be accompanied by anxiety, agoraphobia (feeling unsafe), panic disorders, somatoform disorders (symptoms of physical illness or pain that cannot be fully diagnosed), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Women have significantly higher rates of developing PTSD following exposure to traumatic events – at least double that of men.
- An alarming 80% of individuals with eating disorders are women, which has the highest overall mortality rate of any mental illness.
It is often hard for men and women to speak up about mental health, where both are stereotyped in different ways when it comes to mental health. For women, they are often afraid to seek therapy because of the societal stigma attached to it, as well as their responsibilities as a parent and caregiver. If a woman does not seek help when a condition first appears, it is possible that she will put off getting aid and/or therapy for an extended period of time, which results in a more extensive decline in mental wellbeing. To help this, it is important to speak out about the stigma and encourage women to seek help when it is needed.
Maternal Mental Health
All women are at risk of developing mental disorders during pregnancy and the first year following birth, although variables such as socioeconomic position, race, stress, and a history of mental health problems (or a family history of them) enhance the risk.
Postpartum depression is one of the most prevalent maternal mental health issues, and it is frequently misdiagnosed as “baby blues.” While most women may experience mood swings and tears as a result of a sudden change in hormones, it’s critical for you (and your friends, family, and partner) to be aware of the warning signals that this could be something more severe. Postpartum depression symptoms include:
- Low self-esteem
- No feelings of content when being with your baby
- Becoming increasingly more irritable
- Constant states of anxiousness
- Feelings of resentment towards your baby
- Significantly lowered appetite
To help those moms who struggle with maternal mental health it is important to create known support and to learn the signs of declining maternal mental health, such as post-partum depression. Look out for your loved ones and encourage them to seek professional help when needed!
NOTE: This blog should not be taken as professional medical advice nor is provided as such. If you or someone you know is suffering from any mental health related issue, you should seek professional medical advice.