Women’s Mental Health: An Overlooked Subject You should Know in Depth


Women's Mental Health

An old saying goes like, you win over a woman’s heart; she would become the world to you.

Such a romantic line never became a part of our life practically no matter how advanced our world has got over the last few decades, or did it?

Women’s mental health was and remains one of the most obscure subjects in our society, be it in a third-world country or among the world’s most advanced nations.

But you would be relieved to know that awareness is spreading among people nowadays through various researches, surveys, social welfare activities, and of course, the thriving social media platforms.

Thanks to the cutting-edge electronic media by which women can find their way into the answers to their diverse mental issues. On top of that, electronic platforms are making ways for women to participate in forums and contests, share stories and experiences, apply and achieve remote-jobs, etc. while alleviating their stresses and depressions.

However, the question remains; are those measures effective enough? Do they solve women’s troubles or make them go away completely?

Practically, they don’t. Apart from the suffering women themselves, people around them need to know about their ordeals in various life phases. Those supportive hands must come forward to make women cope with their issues to stay mentally and physically fit.

So, brace yourself to embark on a journey that would bring light to some impartible aspects of our life, particularly fueling women’s mental health issues, and try to be wiser on how to support yourself and the likeminded.

Can You Define A Woman’s Mental Health?

Women's Mental Health
Can You Define A Woman’s Mental Health

Frowning at this question? Looks sophisticated, right?

You’re not alone. We all are on the same boat.

Generally, you can’t penetrate the mental state of a human being easily. It’s like a vast maze consisting of myriad thoughts, stresses, ideas, emotions, and intellects. Women’s mental health, in particular, isn’t so different.

Saying a young girl, an adult, or an older lady is fine from the outside may not be necessarily accurate. Being a grown-up, you know there exists a curtain. This curtain filters out the positive vibes only to the world, leaving inside the worries and grudges.

If you’re eating and sleeping well, getting through your daily responsibilities satisfactorily, having good times with your family and friends, your mental health seems to be stable and peaceful.

But how can you tell if there’s something wrong?

According to the website, OWH (Office on Women’s Health),

If you’re experiencing a change in your thoughts, behaviors, or moods that is interfering with your work or relationships for longer than 2 weeks, you may have a mental health condition. It can be difficult to tell whether you have a mental health condition if you feel sadness, anxiety, or other intense emotions most of the time. Many mental health conditions first appear early in life, usually before 25 years old.”

So, it’s all about observing your symptoms. Your senses should be alert to notice anything amiss that’s persistent and obstructing your mind from everything you love.

Having trouble concentrating on study or work lately? Being brood with your family and friends throughout time? What’s stopping you from falling asleep now? Finding it hard to complete a simple task at hand? Irritated easily by your kids?

Alright, you’re having some mental issues if the above questions have bombarded your mind lately.

Please, don’t fool yourself by thinking it’s going to be over soon on its own because it doesn’t. 

Anything that limits your natural flourish in daily life is a negative force. Women are more emotional than men naturally. They’re soft and delicate as flowers. That’s why it’s dangerous for women to let any negative thoughts in and rule over.

Proactiveness in driving away the negative impacts is a must because the aftermath could prove worst for the women.

Women who plunge into depression are reportedly seen to feel despaired of everything. As a result, they fall victim to alcohol and drug abuse. And you know the rest: either rehabilitation for life or see you in the afterlife.

That’s why you’ll find a woman mostly sophisticated from the outside, but delicate and sweet on the inside; just like a prickly cactus pear!

So, don’t skip the visit to your doctor or a psychiatrist if you come across any chronic depression. It’s better late than never.

Why is it Important to Understand A Woman’s Mental Health?

Women's Mental Health
Why is it Important to Understand A Woman’s Mental Health

A survey by the organization named We Are Agenda stated that approximately 19% of women (1 in 5) experience Common Mental Disorder such as anxiety and depression.

The same study shows approximately 78% of women, being the victim of sexual and physical violence, have gone through life-threatening trauma.

Yes, you know the situation even by not looking at the stats.

The above data show the importance of women’s mental health and why we should concern about it.

Apart from enduring physical abuses, women bear a lifelong depression under the state of poverty, minor ethnicity, post-partum, war, and senility.

Now that we’ve identified a few causes and states of women’s mental health condition, it would be easier to comprehend the importance of women’s mental health at large:

1.   A Woman as A Housemaker Sustains on Familial Support

Things become clear as daylight how essentially a woman can build and maintain a house when you think about it.

If men are the house’s wage-earner, women are the prudent caterer to serve the whole family based on that wage. Thus, we must look after our women’s mental health and their substantial needs.

2.   A Woman Finds A Lifelong Support in Her Husband

A man is incomplete without his soulmate. But it’s arduous to nurture that soulmate’s mental health when she’s near.

If a man looks after his wife wholeheartedly, it can give him the lifelong support he requires to succeed in life.

3.   A Woman Is the Key to A New Generation

A woman completes her existence upon reaching motherhood. Enduring the pain of giving birth to a child feels merciless, yet that moment crowns her head with the queenship.

As long as women maintain the tradition of bearing the next generation, our human race can be optimistic about stretching further. Thus, we must nourish the nursing women as well as those who’re about to give birth.

4.   An Woman Possesses Immense Potential of Success

Women have reached the zenith of success with their sheer merits and hard works in the last couple of decades. History, too, reflects the sharp and meritorious women who’d marked those times with their generous acts and resolutions.

It shows that women can climb impossible heights of success within a given opportunity. Education, sports, politics, astronomy, technology– you name it; qualified women are everywhere.

Looking up the Stats on Women’s Mental Health

Mental health condition befalls both men and women due to various social and economic factors.

About 20% of women in the United States face mental health problems each year. They are usually diagnosed with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and an eating disorder.

Below, we’re shedding light on some common mental health issues based on empirical statistics:

Women's Mental Health
Looking up the Stats on Women’s Mental Health

Statistical Image Credit: American Psychiatric Association

1.    Depression is A Grey Shadow of A Woman

Depression hardly leaves women alone. And it’s the commonest mental illness women suffer.

The number of women agitated by depression throughout the lifetime is double than that of men.

About 10% of women experience at least one major episode of depression at 18 or later.

2.    Anxiety is A Slow Poison

Sadly, women double the men in anxiety too. Women tend to go through generalized anxiety or panic disorder more than men. Anxiety works as a slow poison in women, which feeds on their trauma, losses, heartbreaks, etc.

3.    PTSD Can Make Women Hypervigilant

Women become hypervigilant and depressive due to post-traumatic stress disorder.

They often show a sign of not feeling emotion or stay within themselves whenever go through the stages of PTSD.

4.    Suicidal Attempt is More Common in Women

As per the survey, women attempt more suicide than men. However, women are stronger than men in deterring from taking their own lives totally.

Conversely, men are prone to self-destruction about four times than women.

5.    Eating Disorder (Bulimia) May Prevail in Women due to Depression

Women lead the way to both types of eating disorders due to their mental health condition.

If 10 people are prone to bulimia, 8-9 among them would be women. On the other hand, about 6-7 women among 10 people suffer from binge eating disorder.

6.    Schizophrenia May Possess Women at Early Age

Schizophrenia slips into women in their late 20s, whereas some may experience it in the early 30s.

The rate of schizophrenia in men and women is quite similar.

7.    Dementia is Common in Older Women

Dementia tends to make a joke out of women’s longer lifespan than men. It’s more likely balancing the extra years of women’s lives with men’s early departure.

About 66% of the victims of dementia are women. And the risk of dementia in women stretches as they age.

8.    Alcoholism or Substance Abuse Rate in Women is Alarming

Though women are about half of the men in terms of alcoholism or substance abuse due to mental health conditions, the number is still concerning.

About 12% of adult women are involved in binge drinking every 3 months. Excessive drinking may disturb the menstrual cycle and cause infertility.

Substance abuse is generally more common in men than in women. But it’s hard to bring back even women from the narcotics once they’ve fallen victim to it.

Men are 2.2 times abusive of drugs than women, while about 1.9 times more dependent on drugs than women.

Factors Affecting A Woman’s Mental Health

Let’s talk about the factors that affect women’s mental health and the results associated with them:

  • Social and Economic Barrier: It’s hard to cope with all the long-established social standards and norms of being a woman. Coming across ill comments by society at a young age is pretty common.

Besides, if a woman falls in the middle of a low-income family where her role is mostly undefined or obscure, it puts her under stress.

  • Gender Discrimination: Fighting gender discrimination is the existential remorse of a woman. It starts but never stops.

Gathering courage, enough resources, and support to stand ground and fight on are difficult for most women. Constant pressure from family, peers, institution, and the society pile up stress on a woman, resulting in chronic depression.

  • Physical Abuse: Home, streets, and places have always been harsh on women’s existence. A girl might seem okay, but you never know what physical harassment she’d been going through.

Women shy away from expressing their complaints on such atrocity, which leads to anxiety or traumatic disorder.

  • Domestic Violence: You must’ve often heard about a father beating a mother and, sometimes, the children. At a young age, girls falling victim to domestic violence naturally develop a sense of fear, social disorder, inability to trust, and worse, destructive mindset.
  • Infertility: Accidents, alcohol and substance abuse, physical violence, unhappy marriage, etc. can sadly lead to infertility. It’s not that women are mostly to blame for this condition, still, owing to their delicate emotional state, infertility could bring a sense of shame and insecurity to women.
  • Expecting or in a Motherhood: Even expecting a child and giving birth to one can stress women’s mental health. Hormonal changes are at a peak during these times, and they crack women like hell.
  • Empathy about Others: Women are born with a motherly nature. They quickly feel compassion about others and their problems. Doing so, they sometimes get too much involved in it, which drains their mental strength.

Even worse, sometimes, too much compassion returns nothing but loss of faith and frustration.

  • Breakups or Conflicts in Relations: It’s too familiar nowadays. You would see even a girl at 16 having heartbreaks. Being emotionally drained and broke from inside, relationship breakups can take its toll, leading to depression and substance abuse.

Besides, weak family bonding can inspire insecurity and frustration in girls, which has become ubiquitous.

  • Menopause: Women naturally stop coming across their monthly menstrual cycles at one stage of their life, menopause. Varying from 44-49, women reach menopause to achieve some physical and mental changes.

The most typical mental health issue that may arise in women’s life at menopause is depression. You wouldn’t find any reason behind this state, yet it occurs naturally.

Women’s Mental Health at Different Phases of Life

1.   Early Childhood

Women's Mental Health
Early Childhood

How much could you recollect from your early childhood? Can you relate anything to your mental health?

It’s no surprise any longer nowadays that the young girls, as early as 5, may suffer from mental discomfort, trauma, and panic. And the factors contributing to their secret worries are not just one or two.

Whether a girl or a boy, its mental connections are underway to maturity from the very beginning. It’s the first bond between an infant and its mother that heavily dictates the long-term mental state.

Similarly, when a newborn girl can intimate with her mother soon after her birth, her neural and physical responses are positive.

As a girl grows into a crawler or a toddler, the small world around her looms into view. Her interaction increases, so do her nerves. She wants to touch everything and learn from it. Then, if her parents or caregiver attend her carefully, she’s in better shape to grow healthfully.

The opposite will happen to a girl child when no one’s out there to protect her when she’s afraid, panicked, or threatened. It brings the topic of child abuse.

According to the Childhelp, an organization for children abuse solution, “Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse.”

Imagine how a little girl could go through and survive those scary moments in her life. It’s incredible but even sadder when many brave women live to tell their surviving stories in the later parts of their lives.

2.   Teenage (10-19)

Women's Mental Health
Teenage

It’s the most delicate stage of a woman’s life. You would retrospectively point out the bad and good memories, small and medium struggles, and even ponder those particular days of each month secretly back in those girlish years.

However, the teenage’s standard age bracket could be 10-19, which plays a foundation for a woman’s future. Thus, a woman’s mental health is crucial at the teen.

WHO (World Health Organization) has recently reported about 16% of diseases and injuries taking place due to teens’ mental conditions. Teens about 14-15 are prone to various mental health conditions, mostly unrevealed and unattended.

Now, when it comes to girls, they remain almost similarly affected to depression and anxiety as boys in their pre-teens. Once crossing the puberty threshold, girls spring to emotional hike way more significantly than boys.

It may be this maturity edge that allows a girl’s sensitivity to magnify even to the tiniest bit of emotional glitch. Teenage girls suffer from anhedonia, a depressive symptom in which she struggles to act spontaneously when people are around.

The worst part is that even the closest people tend to mistake her internalized disruptions for abnormal behaviors. Depressive symptoms include disrupted sleep patterns, eating disorders, slacking activities, or academic downfall.

When it comes to the bloom in the garden, meaning a teen-girl coming across that ‘love’ or ‘fancy’ thing for the first time, the situation could become anything from interesting to critical.

It seems all normal and even gorgeous to an extent, but things worsen as she gets hammered by an unwanted breakup. Researches suggest breakups have been leading the cause of depression, substance abuse, over-eating, and of course, suicide in teens worldwide.

The social media has slithered into every family, adding to the current crisis. It’s exacerbating teens’ mental health into abnormal behaviors on the screen while misbehaving with parents behind the camera.

3.   Adulthood (18-25)

Women's Mental Health
Adulthood

When the blooming age suffers from mental health problems and mostly remains untold, misunderstood, and untreated, the innate frustration may claw its way out in surprising ways in the early 20s.

Since girls are shy and sensitive about sharing their problems even when they’re adults, a few girls may take an alternative path to fight the oppressions. Maybe not many, but a certain number of girls crossing twenties, end up in crimes, adultery, or self-harm.

Several surveys and reports have strongly found links between women’s mental issues in their 20s and domestic violence, sexual abuse, or social media trends. It’s a great concern that’s made the researchers identify these women as a ‘High-Risk Group.’

Statistics by NHS Digital showed about 25% of women between 16 and 24 usually report common mental issues, including anxiety and depression. Women’s report on such symptoms is nearly three times higher than that of men.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Miranda Wolpert emphasized on the social media’s manipulating role on young women’s mindset to an extent. She supported the good things there like online forums, groups, etc. of like-minded people, but those have limitations in coping with critical mental issues.

Furthermore, not having the right to choose a suitable career is another reason for young women’s mental health condition. Not every part of the world is up for women’s leadership and financial independence.

Hence, millions of young women are still hindering when it comes to determining their career.

4.   In a Marriage

Women's Mental Health
In a Marriage

A significant consideration goes to the women who settle in marriage as early as 18. If you were married at a very young age, you would understand this. It’s an early start for women where they stumble upon various challenges of making a family.

In such cases, young women may go through a series of upsetness, leading to depression. Other contributing factors could be an unhappy marriage, economic constraints, unhealthy living area, malnutrition, etc.

Marriage comes with the responsibility of building a family and establishing a bond among the family members.

While in Western and European cultures, it’s usual to live separately with your partner, in the Indian subcontinent and its neighboring countries, it’s still the ‘living together in an extended family.’

Amidst an extended family, a newly married young bride always finds it difficult to breathe. The daily responsibilities seem copious while living up to different expectations becomes suffocating.

Those who are resilient can cope with this situation, but sadly, most young women don’t have that resolute.

Many of them suppress their weeps and tears caused by teases or insults from the in-laws family members. And those who can’t endure overlapping stresses cruise toward morbidity secretly through a course of critical diseases.

Nonetheless, nuclear families can have complications too. Young women may find it hard sometimes to cope with everyday responsibilities as housewives.

Even when they maintain jobs and houses from both ends with their husbands’ shoulder to shoulder, it may turn out too much for their delicate minds to tackle for long.

Unfortunately, if the trust issues crawl into a marriage, women’s mental condition deteriorates drastically, followed by an early divorce and seclusion from social life.

5.   Old-Age and Senility (50+)

Women's Mental Health
Old-Age and Senility

An old wine might always taste more delicious, but not the old age. Age-effect on older women is severer to the young and middle-aged counterparts.

As women cross 50 and trudge toward senility, things become more greyish, waning the rainbows of life.

Enid, an older woman and a service receiver from the Independent Age, a support organization for old citizens, had shared her senile experience. She’d described her old age as full of loneliness.

Enid lives alone after her husband had died. Her children still visit her, but the emptiness returns the moment they take farewell. Sometimes, she feels the days are too long to get through with nothing particular for her to do anymore in this life. It’s more like floating on an ocean aimlessly than sitting in a blessed stoicism.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors have jointly published a magazine called The State of Mental Health and Aging in America. It says that 20% of people aging 55 or more experience severe cognitive impairment, anxiety, mood disorder, etc.

The magazine further reports that women aging about 50-65 or older are more prone to FMD (Frequent Mental Distress) than men. The same age group suffers from depression and anxiety disorder to its counterpart.

6.   Other Phases

  •   Work-Life

Work-life to women is like striving not to lose the ball from either end of the court, meaning balancing their work and family.

In doing so, women have to bear constant mental pressure, which often turns into mental distresses. Women struggle to maintain their work productivity, family involvement, personal time, and harmony of life.

Being a working mother with a bread-winner husband often seems morally competitive. But being a single working mother is more challenging. It’s because you must break many shells to work on while sustaining yourself and your children within the society.

Most working women around the world experience mental health condition, but very few seek help.

  • Orphaned

Orphaned women find the world around them, hostile and ever-challenging. Whether she can speak for herself or not, an orphan girl hardly gets the basic needs fulfilled.

Apart from their needs and crisis being overlooked, society’s cruel eye often invokes threats to their very existence.

Many orphaned and homeless girls are abducted or lured into social crimes such as theft, forgery, and even prostitution. Imagine the fear, stress, and loath a girl grows into due to the adverse acts of a specific societal entity.

Even those orphans who have inherited wealth and guardians suffer from mental health conditions. Such girls may encounter oppression, verbal or physical abuse, excessive criticism, and critical health complications. These often impact their education and social interaction.

According to a Psychiatry Journal research in 2018, female orphans, mostly 11-17, are more into depression than male orphans. Many female orphans cause harm to themselves as they grow into depressive symptoms from childhood to teenage.

  • Deprived

a. Old Age Home

A significant portion of the world’s population comprises of older people. And having a diversified economy worldwide, they somehow manage to find themselves in arrangements like nursing homes, support accommodation, community, etc.

Older women who settle in old-age homes establish a new social life within the facility. They make bonding with the fellow elderly ladies.

Unlike older men, older women spend their time reading, walking, stretching, and gardening. Men find their old-age recreation in hiking, jogging, swimming, etc.

Perhaps, the difference between older men and women’s activities determines the mental state vastly. The lifelong memories, frustrations, heartbreaks, etc. round up in their minds, leading to upsetness and depression.

b. Miscarriage

One of the most ill-fated incidents of a woman’s life is miscarriage. An expecting mother’s dreams and hopes shatter into pieces when she meets such a cruel result.

Imagine an expecting mother’s frustration, loss of hope, and guilt when she finds her long-borne flesh & blood failing to make it to life owing to an accident.

University of Rochester Medical Center reports in one study that the trauma of a miscarriage hardly leaves a mother even after a decade, or after bearing a healthy child soon after that unfortunate account.

Doctors worldwide agree on an unlucky mother’s mental condition to severely impact the upcoming child’s health. It’s a fact that 50-80% of the mothers can bear a child again after a miscarriage. Still, it can’t compensate the lost cord in a mother’s heart.

c. Denied Justice

Millions of unsolved cases of women wash away every year like pebbles on a shore. And if any yells and commotions are audible, it’s the women’s cries on injustice.

America, Europe, Asia, or Africa– law and order of these continents indiscriminately record hundreds of thousands of child abuse cases, murder, abduction, violence, rape, etc. every year. But they stack merely as cases.

When a criminal gets away from the law, it kills the plaintiff’s belief in law. And when the plaintiff is a woman, her faith in people takes a drastic downfall.

All those victims of acid, rape, molestation, and physical abuse recoil themselves when they see the guilty walking away with pride. They suppress their anguish because it’s useless to burst out.

Such helplessness piles up stresses, panic, fear, and frustration in women. Women denied of justice can either commit suicide or go a long way, and that too could be only for self-harming.

Women’s Mental Health during Covid-19 Lockdown

Although the COVID-19 has perched the human population on a large scale within the last 9 months, narrowing it down to women’s mental condition wouldn’t be an ordeal.

The stay-at-home order in many countries has burdened small or medium-income families more than ever. The pandemic is like dancing on these poor families’ graves by exacerbating their already worse situation.

The income has gone from low to zero, which has put the parents at peril. Mothers are helpless as the children’s appetites are breathing heavily on their neck day and night.

Besides, domestic violence has taken its toll on the married couples’ lives during COVID-19. Conflicts and disputes have become regular, which have been declining women’s tolerance level. Hence, mental distress is increasing in women alarmingly.

Women's Mental Health
Women’s Mental Health during Covid-19 Lockdown

The forced lockdown globally hasn’t only barred the social interactions; it’s done worse by inspiring women’s overreaction to domestic tits and bits.

Since medical supports are still scarce in many countries, you can’t hold out too much hope to see improvement any sooner.

Final Words

Women possess a rare type of mental structure, no matter how abstract that is. And the best part is, each woman possesses a unique mental pattern.

It took a long time for the world to understand women’s mental capacities, the barriers, and the potential. After getting through a long passage of violence, discrimination, negligence, and existential crisis, women as a whole have acquired the recognition they deserved.

It’s crucial to comprehend or at least try to understand women’s mindset or what mental state they’re experiencing. It’s true, and each gender has its unique quality, yet we should learn to establish harmony between these two types.

It’s high time we should educate, nurture, and love the women in our lives and support them wherever they are through appropriate means.

Mohammad Anique

Mohammad Anique is the editor at WomenMinds who writes informative and helpful blogs on various topics, including beauty, skincare, parenting, etc. He's a bookworm, an animal lover, and an aspiring writer.

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