Gender is a critical determinant of mental health, meaning that it plays an important role in defining susceptibility and exposure to a variety of mental health risks. Not only that, gender differences make help seeking difficult and tiresome. To simplify our understanding on this vast subject, let us break it up into parts
- RATE DIFFERENCES VIS A VIS MEN: Gender difference in depression is one of the most emphasizing findings in psychiatric epidemiology. Major depression occurs twice as often in women as compared to men, tends to be more persistent and female gender itself has found to be a significant predictor of relapse. Also, wherein most studies have found that males have higher rates of completed suicide, it is actually the females who have higher number of suicide attempts. Depression is mostly associated with various anxiety disorders like panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and OCD amongst others.
Even though other mental illness like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have not been found to have any significant gender differences in prevalence but the severity, duration and functional impairment is much more prominent in women than men.
Also stress related mental disorders like adjustment disorder, acute stress reaction and post traumatic stress disorder have been found to be considerably higher in women than in men.
Another important but relatively unexpressed problem is the abuse of substances (drugs) by women. Contrary to what is generally believed about Indian women, studies have found that women substance users have been consistently rising in the past 10 years. The commonly used substances are alcohol, tobacco, heroin and prescription medicines such as pain killers or sleeping pills. Drug use in women is under reported due to societal disapproval, fear of exposure or stigma and lack of support that limits treatment seeking.
- DETERMINANTS OF WOMEN MENTAL HEALTH:
- A) Biological factors:
- Hormonal factors like cyclical changes in estrogen and progesterone.
- Variability in structural and functional brain related parameters.
- Puberty, pregnancy, menopause associated hormonal changes.
- B) Psychological factors
- Higher negative, stressful life events
- Societal expectations and roles
- Stronger emotional vulnerability
- Poor social and emotional support
- C) Social factors
- Marriage and moving to spousal home from parental home
- Lower expected and perceived social rank
- Gender roles of stress on passivity and submission
- Lower occupational and economical independence
IMPACT OF WOMEN MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
The above mentioned difficulties are only the tip of an iceberg, they themselves pose new challenges, impair the already low help seeking and further aggravate the illness and the effect on family and self is manifold.
IMPROVING WOMEN MENTAL HEALTH
Creating awareness – not to sweep such issues ‘under the carpet’, knowing and making others aware of the differences and difficulties faced by women in day to day life and its effect on mental health.
Identification – to recognize these symptoms in self and friends and family.
Acceptance – to qualify such as mental health disorders and difficulties
Help seeking – to access help in any form – family, friends, counselor, family doctor, psychiatrist.
Role of family & society- don’t ignore such issues, extend support, seek professional help!
DELHI MIND CLINIC
The vision of Delhi Mind Clinic Is to provide mental health care to all population in its vicinity. Delhi Mind Clinic realizes the specific mental health needs of women and its endeavor is to help the women realize their potential through optimal physical and mental health.
Dr Sugandha Gupta, the founder of Delhi Mind Clinic has always had a specific and keen interest towards women mental health issues. In her over 9 years of clinical experience, she has gained the expertise of dealing with various mental health issues relating to women with a focus on strengthening coping, increasing resilience and improving functioning with an eclectic mix of psychotherapy and medication.