Some mental health problems are more common in women than men. Disorders such as depression and anxiety are prevalent across both genders. But hormonal changes and societal factors play predominant roles. They make women’s mental health more vulnerable. Women have higher rates of anxiety and depression along with fatigue, sadness, and lack of motivation. Changes in hormones can lead to postpartum depression, depression during menopause or premenstrual dysphoric disorder
This goes back to the mid-1950s. A 12-year-old girl noticed a bloodstain on her clothes. Being raised without a mother and no other female family member, she barely knew what a period was. She could neither gather up the courage to discuss this phenomenon with her father. Nor she could face the “embarrassment” that came with the natural phenomenon.
Cut to 2021, we’re comparatively quite open-minded and educated. But that doesn’t stretch to open discussions about puberty, periods, and especially women’s mental health. The country’s literacy rate and even digital era indicators like internet penetration have been improving. However, looking at the various social taboos, it seems progress is also biased towards the female gender.
Certain aspects of Indian culture are thought-provoking. Preferences for a male child, austere code of conduct for females, dowry, the submissive status of women at home with her primary roles being childbearing and rearing are a few. So, the life of an Indian woman is not easy with struggles beginning quite early.
The physical changes that a girl experiences in this phase, including menstruation, growth of breasts, acne, weight fluctuations, and others, play with her mental health. This affects her emotions and behavior. It’s annoying when your hormones go frenzied. However, during this phase, how she is treated is more important. A professional’s opinion about the changes causing her frequent mood swings, PMS, stress, anxiety, or even borderline depression is never taken. These changes are often neglected, which worsen with the lack of care and warmth.
Her struggle grows even further, from choosing a career to facing the pressure of getting married and having kids. She might not be ready for it or not. She juggles everything. Ultimately, she gets highly exhausted. Describing her mental state as “exhaustion” would be an understatement. This all happens maybe because women’s secondary status is backed up by cultural traditions and religious norms.
The most difficult yet the least discussed phase — the climacteric period starts nearly two years before menopause and continues a few years post-menopause. This period overlaps with major events happening in her life. Her children might have left home. She might be caring for her elderly inlaws or parents or might have lost them. Her relationship with her husband might have changed till now owing to the lack of common goals. Obviously, amidst all this, her physical body as well as a mental state change a lot. She may even suffer from clinical depression. Though the severity differs, some may develop major conditions such as menopausal (climacteric) disorders according to their personality and socio-environmental circumstances.
In this period, ovarian function is almost at its end and aging-related signs start growing. Feeling anxious about the decline in physical strength and memory is quite common. Acceptance of aging and death and ultimately conquering the mental issues are important. Screening for certain problems such as dementia and clinical depression also becomes crucial.
Women’s mental health tips
Good habits to improve mental health may slightly vary from woman to woman. These habits may depend on their choices, circumstances, and phases of life. For example, some women relax by taking a warm bath, while others release stress through physical activity or listening to music.
To maintain good mental health, you can:
Supportive families, friends, and community along with women’s mental and physical health awareness and easily accessible healthcare facilities may help a woman support her health.
If you face severe mental conditions, these healthy habits may not be sufficient to improve your mental health. A considerate remark and a kind affirmation from a mental health professional may lead to your improved mental wellness.