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An American study by the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) found that it is women who are more vulnerable to mental health related issues – beginning from depression to anxiety – than men. While men have a likelihood to develop behaviour, social and substance abuse related problems. There is no specific reason behind the causes to this gender specific behaviour. But for environmental, cultural, social, biological, and sometimes genetic factors. Mental illness in women is an issue largely brushed under the rug for the social stigma it carries with it. But time we identified them and discussed them openly. There is nothing alarming or embarrassing about these disorders. And in today’s time, a lot of women develop it. They can all be evaluated and treated by a mental health care professional. Provided you do reach out to them.
Today we discuss the top forms of mental illness in women that are extremely common, and need to be checked before too late.
1. Eating disorder
You thought eating disorder can affect anyone? Well, mostly women are afflicted by this mental illness. And yes, you read that right. Eating disorder is a kind of mental illness in women. This is mostly driven by your mind. Reason being women aim to appear slim, sport a toned body on which she can flaunt any outfit. The television commercials and media conditioning are such that women are under immense pressure to maintain a certain body image. Only then will they get a societal acceptance, they believe. They have a better chance at landing a job, would make them popular among friends, men would find them attractive. And this would give a massive fillip to their self-esteem. Predominantly most women aspire to be thin, and subject themselves to dieting, fasting, eating too little etc. Owing to which they fall prey to eating disorders.
Anorexia is the most common eating disorder. In second position is bulimia. Anorexic women suffer paranoia about gaining extra weight. They feel anything they eat is going to make them fat. And hence refrain from eating well altogether. They loose a lot of weight due to this and remain painfully thin. When anorexia is combined with vomiting your food out, out of suspicion that you have eating too much, it becomes bulimia. A lot of women live their lives to maintain a steady weight, and look at food as their enemy. This is the beginning of a problem they need to address in quick time.
A research by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America came up with the finding that women are over twice as likely to develop anxiety disorder as men. These women fall between the age group of 15 to 50. To identify the symptoms of anxiety here is what you need to do. Analyse whether you suffer from paranoia, hypertension, stress, exhaustion and tension. If you are chronic, you have a problem at hand. We all lead stressful lives. And it is all but difficult to annihilate anxiety from it. But just how rampant are these symptoms? Are you one to take stress easily, worry about little things, fear that everything will go wrong or things might only happen for the worse? Trust us, you are suffering an anxiety disorder. A common mental illness in women. And it is a result of our immediate environment. Aside from the fact that our society and cultural factors, and also the economic background play a role. Experts believe this is the case because women tend to smolder, rather internalise their emotions. While men externalise them.
Besides, men and women are wired so differently. And they are biologically very different. A hormone called, gonadal, is considered responsible for some women taking undue stress and suffering panic attacks. If you feel you are always anxious, be it on the street, in your home or in your workplace, and often can’t find the real reason for your worry, time you contacted a therapist.
This is another extremely common mental illness in women. About 10 to 15 per cent of women are believed to experience depression in their lives. Biological factors are primarily responsible for it. This is owing to the fact that a woman’s body experiences more biological changes in her entire life than a man’s. Beginning from puberty, adolescence, childbirth, to menopause. Biological changes bring about a hormonal shift. These are followed by certain anomalies and malfunction.
In all this hormonal changes play a vital role. They affect a woman’s mental health and make her depressive. Particularly around the time of pregnancy and childbirth. Which is why many women suffer from severe bouts of postpartum depression. Menstruating women too suffer depression, and have a hard time controlling their mood swings. And not to mention, unlike men, women tend to overthink. They often bottle-up their emotions compared to men, who are more vocal. This makes depression a common mental illness in women. Experts attribute social and economic factors among the powerful causes of depression. Followed by bouts of dejection, lack of interest and motivation in women. They have to earn, run their families, look after the household, raise their children, keep their spouses happy. She dons multiple roles. Hence higher likelihood of the disorder.
4. Post-traumatic stress disorder
Women are highly susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. They are twice as likely to gain it compared to men. This is so because the instances of assault, sexual abuse, domestic violence, are higher in women than in men. And women find it extremely difficult to cope up with such trauma. Often they wallow in guilt and self-blame for believing that they let it happen to them in the first place. They think they will not gain societal acceptance after this. A lot of women would rather carry the stigma of an abusive relationship than break free. Separation anxiety, anxiety and paranoia are also forms of PTSD. A trauma survivors life isn’t an easy one. It needs counselling. Else the victim continues to live in fear and trepidation.
The shock of a bad divorce or a child custody battle. Or an abusive relationship are causes of trauma. And it may not be easy to come out of it by sheer will and determination. Often times, you might need a therapist’s help in addressing your problem. In getting rid of these deep-seated fears. Post a trauma, a woman continues to draw from it. She suspects people and their intentions, has trust issues and generally lives in fear and paranoia. There is nothing wrong or hurtful in seeking a medical expert’s advise in such matters. It will only make your life easy.