The buzz around mental health and well-being is increasing, and for good reason! Women’s mental health in particular can have a significant impact on relationships, career, self-esteem, and physical health. It can be helpful to understand the signs to know how to address them.
While women and men are likely to experience similar mental health issues, some of these issues occur at a higher rate in women than men. These include:
• Depression: Women are twice as likely than men to experience a depressive episode in their lifetime. This can include perinatal and postpartum depression.
• Anxiety: Like depression, women are twice as likely as men to experience generalized anxiety or panic disorder.
• PTSD: Women are twice as likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder compared to men, with a major contributing factor being abuse. Additionally, women’s PTSD symptoms are likely to include hypervigilance, depression, or difficulty feeling/describing their emotions (as opposed to men, who are more likely to experience anger or substance abuse).
• Eating Disorders: Women are 10 times more likely than men to be affected by an eating disorder; 85 – 95% of people with anorexia nervosa or bulimia and 65% of people with binge eating disorder are women.
In many instances, acknowledging that you need help can be the first step in making a change towards prioritizing well-being. Once you’re ready, maintaining quality mental health starts with developing healthy coping skills to help manage daily highs and lows. Here are some areas to begin:
• Pay attention to your physical needs: Consistent exercise has been shown to lower levels of both anxiety and depression. When we exercise, our brains release endorphins, which reduce stress and increase calm feelings. Additionally, eating a balanced diet and listening to our body’s cues can also ensure we are getting the nutrients we need to boost our moods and lessen the likelihood of irritability. Exercise and a healthy diet also promote better sleep, which has a positive impact on mental health.
• Invest in yourself: Self-care isn’t selfish. It is important for women, who can sometimes feel like they’re consistently caring for others, to extend that same care and attention to themselves. Investing in self-care does not necessarily mean a big financial commitment (but treat yourself if you want to!). Self-care can also look like spending time and energy on the things that build you up; relax with a book or cup of coffee, connect with a best friend, meditate, volunteer, etc. Find what you need to recharge your personal battery.
• Talk to someone: We are biased here, but giving yourself the space to verbally process in a safe, non-judgmental environment can shed tremendous light. Counseling can help women gain insight into their thoughts and feelings, and even uncover the role gender bias may play in mental health. Vulnerability is a powerful tool.
If any of this information resonates with you, the clinicians at Charlotte Judd’s Practice are here to listen and help. Your mental health matters and is deserving of attention.