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Women’s Day: Why Women Should Care about their Mental Health

“A woman is the whole circle,” says International Women’s Day 2022. “She possesses the ability to create, nurture, and transform,” author Diane Mariechild remarked. There are numerous lovely quotes by feminists, authors, and prominent figures about women’s incredible skills to wear multiple hats, take on unseen unpaid job, and nurture their family while contributing monetarily to household needs. Yes, they are supermoms, loving sisters, and caring daughters, but they are also the ones that suffer from mental health difficulties and are hesitant to discuss them.

According to the World Health Organization, one out of every five women suffers from mental illness. Due to too many duties on several fronts, gender discrimination, domestic violence, and a slew of other causes, females are more sensitive to mental health difficulties. Worse, they may be afraid of being judged and insensitive if they seek assistance.

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“Being a woman further masks the presence of mental illnesses often rationalized by the presence of physical health issues, social stressors, or mocked by the explanation- ‘You are thinking more negatively because you are a woman,'” says Ruchi Sharma, Consultant – Clinical Psychologist, HCMCT Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi.

Why is women’s mental health neglected?

“Gender plays a key role in determining mental health and illness. When it comes to women’s health in the area of health policy and public health, one inclination is to first and foremost link women’s well-being to that of their children and families. Despite the validity of this viewpoint, Sharma claims that “the mental health of a woman as an individual is not highlighted and is lost in the background.”

Men and women are affected differently by mental health disorders. Men often act out their feelings through disruptive or anti-social behavior, but women may be uncomfortable talking about what upsets them and tend to internalize them. Depression, eating disorders, and self-harm are common in women’s mental health.

Symptoms of women’s mental health problems

“Feeling sad or down for no reason, confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate, excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt, drastic mood changes of highs and lows, withdrawal from friends and activities, and significant tiredness, low energy, or sleeping problems are some common symptoms of mental health issues in women.” If you see such signs in a family member, we strongly advise you to speak with them and assist them in contacting a therapist as soon as possible. Dr. Sanjay Shah, General Physician, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, states, “Mental therapists can help patients develop new coping skills and approaches to manage better daily stressors and symptoms connected with the condition – therefore always seek treatment when needed.”

Women and men communicate, handle relationships, express feelings, and react to stress in different ways.

“Gender differences in the age of onset and frequency of symptoms, clinical characteristics, social adjustment, and outcome of many mental diseases have been observed. Women are more affected than men by depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, somatic disorders, Cluster B personality disorders, perinatal and postpartum mood disorders, and perinatal and postpartum mood disorders. “As a result of the epidemic, women’s mental health problems have worsened,” Sharma says.

Social stigma

For fear of being criticized and a lack of family support in therapy, many educated women feel humiliated and discouraged to talk about their mental health difficulties.

“Adolescent girls and young adult women frequently desire to get treatment but are hesitant to do so due to the stigma associated with obtaining help from a mental health professional.” They continue to manage their symptoms and stressors on their own until they have a nervous breakdown or a complete collapse. “The key to addressing this situation is early action,” Sharma says.

“Women’s mental health must be prioritized because neglecting it can lead to intergenerational mental health issues as well as severely impacting women’s physical health, leading to problems including PCOD, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and stomach issues,” she continues.

Why is it so vital for women to take care of themselves?

Women must place a high value on their alone time and see it as sacred. They must realize that it is a necessity for them, not a luxury. It’s critical to encourage your family’s women to take time for themselves. Regularly scheduling time away is a good method to accomplish this.

“It’s critical to receive relief from your caregiving position in order to maintain your own emotional and physical wellness. If necessary, seek additional care support so that you can take some time for yourself,” advises Dr. Shah.

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