Are you a woman who is struggling with mental health issues?
If so, you are not alone.
Women are more likely than men to experience common mental health issues like depression, anxiety disorder, and PTSD.
What affects women’s mental health? Why do these common problems affect women more often than men?
This blog post will explore common mental health issues of women and how they can be treated so that you can feel empowered to take care of yourself!
What affects women’s mental health?
Women’s mental health is influenced by a variety of things.
- The female hormone, estrogen, can contribute to depression in some women.
- Hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can also affect common mental health issues of women.
- Women are often the primary caregiver for their children, and they may also care for elderly or disabled family members. Women caregivers are more prone to anxiety and depression than other women.
- Family history. Women are more likely to develop depression than males because, while anyone who has a family history of the illness is at an elevated risk of developing it, this genetic precursor affects women more severely.
- Women working in the home, and their concerns about personal safety, might all contribute to feelings of isolation. Social loneliness has been linked to mental health issues.
- Because women are more frequently subjected to sexual assault, they are more prone to post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD)
- Physical and sexual abuse may have a long-term detrimental impact on women’s mental health, especially if they haven’t received any help.
- Women are more likely to report mental health problems than men and that medical professionals are more inclined to diagnose a woman with depression and prescribe mood-altering medications.
Why do more women than men experience depression?
Women are more prone to depression during periods of significant life changes when their hormones fluctuate such as during childbirth or menopause.
Women’s hormones change more dramatically at particular stages of their lives, thus increasing their risk of depression.
Women are also more likely than males to be affected by an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa).
Common Mental Health Issues of Women
Women are more likely to experience certain forms of depression than men. Perinatal depression (depression occurring before and after giving birth, the latter known as postpartum depression), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopause-related sadness are examples of mood disorders connected with fluctuations in women’s hormone levels.
The most common depressive symptoms are:
Experiencing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, futility, or emptiness
- Frequently crying
- Activities that you loved are no longer appealing to you.
- Inability to concentrate, recall, or make a decision
- Insomnia, sleeping too much, or difficulty getting out of bed
- Appetite loss, weight reduction, or binge eating (overeating) in an effort to “feel better”
- Thoughts of suicide, death, or self-harm
- Headaches, nausea, or other physical discomforts that do not go away with therapy
- Getting irritated or angry easily
2) Panic disorder
Panic disorders are divided into several categories, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety. GAD and specific phobias are more common in women.
Panic disorders may develop as a consequence of or in conjunction with other illnesses such as depression or drug abuse.
Panic disorder may be the result of fluctuating sex hormone levels. Premenstrual hormonal changes, when combined with other factors, can contribute to panic attacks.
3) Anxiety disorder
GAD is a type of anxiety disorder in which you experience “excessive anxiety or worry” for most days over a period of six months.
Panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder (or social phobia), separation anxiety disease, and phobia-related disorders are other types of anxiety disorders (such as fear of flying, fear of heights, or fear of specific objects).
The following are signs of an anxiety disorder:
- Chronic irritability
- A feeling of impending doom or calamity
- Sweating, palpitations, sweating, or shivering
- Feeling weak or tired
- Inability to focus
- Abdominal pains or other gastrointestinal concerns
4) PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety disorder that develops following a traumatic occurrence. It includes flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety.
PTSD symptoms may include:
- re-experiencing the traumatic event such as through recurrent, intrusive distressing memories of the trauma or nightmares).
- vivid flashbacks
- intrusive thoughts intrude on your mind periodically
- extremely distressed by real or metaphorical reminders of the trauma
- pain, sweating, nausea, or trembling
- feeling detached from others
- lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
5) Eating Disorder
Other common mental health issues among women include eating disorders, which is a form of body dysmorphic disorder that causes someone to have such an intense obsession with one or more perceived flaws in their physical appearance that they reduce their quality of life.
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two eating disorders that affect adolescents more frequently than other ages. They can strike at any age, however anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are more prevalent in adolescence.
Causes/ risk factors of eating disorder:
- The sexualization of women has a significant impact on the development of negative self-esteem, poor body image issues, and low self-confidence in women.
- Because weight has long been a scrutinized and pedestalized aspect of women’s lives, it’s no surprise that they feel such pressure to be physically perfect.
6) Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
People with BDD typically have a preoccupation or obsession with one or more perceived defects in their physical appearance.
The common theme is that they perceive themselves as looking abnormal and/or deformed, often believing others see them the same way.
These are people who are excessively concerned about their appearance and may believe themselves to be “ugly” to the point that they seek help. This could entail surgical procedures to remove anything deemed to be a physical defect.
BDD sufferers are most concerned with physical flaws and other skin issues like blemishes, hair on the body (or lack thereof), and the shape and size of particular facial features.
People with BDD are preoccupied with their appearance, which can impair their abilities to function at work, in the home, and in social situations.
7) Bipolar Disorder
For a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, a person needs to experience at least one episode of mania or hypomania which is a “high” mood. Bipolar disorder is also characterized by alternating periods of mania and depression, each of which can be severe.
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings which can result in reckless behavior.
These mood swings are often accompanied by periods of depression, mania (extreme irritability), and psychosis where sufferers lose touch with reality or suffer delusions.
Bipolar disorder in women may also be linked to reproductive hormones, as symptoms frequently worsen during perimenopause and menopause. “Women are more likely to suffer from depressive episodes during perimenopause since estrogen levels drop.
Symptoms of bipolar depression in women:
- feeling “high”
- feeling irritated
- increased energy
- increased self-esteem
- feeling able to accomplish anything
- reduced sleep and appetite
- talk faster and more than usual
- racing thoughts
- easily distracted
- taking risks, such as spending a lot of money or engaging in dangerous activities
- feeling sad or “down”
- binge eating and weight gain
- losing interest in hobbies
- trouble concentrating
- difficulties sleeping
- suicidal thoughts
8) Postpartum Disorder
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex combination of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that occur in some women after childbirth.
PPD is a kind of severe depression that begins within four weeks after delivery. Medication and counseling can help treat PPD.
During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone, female reproductive hormones, rise tenfold. Within three days following childbirth, the levels of these hormones decrease back to what they were before pregnancy.
At first, postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues — but the symptoms are more severe and last longer, and they might even get in the way of you caring for your kid and performing basic household chores.
Symptoms usually start in the first few weeks after giving birth. But they might also start in pregnancy or even a year after giving birth.
Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Mood changes or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficult to bond with your baby
- Social withdrawal
- Binge eating or loss of appetite
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Exhaustion or a loss of energy
- Activities you used to enjoy no longer interest you
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or inadequacy
- Not be able to think clearly, concentrate, or make decisions.
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of killing yourself or your kid crossed your mind
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide