Mental health issues affect women differently from men, and it is not just because of social differences, but physical and physiological as well. This is why while depression can happen at any age, it has been observed twice as often in women than in men.
Hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, perimenopause, and during menopause have been identified as one of the more common causes for mental-health related concerns like anxiety and depression. Aside from this, other biological factors like genetics could also sometimes trigger or aggravate a person’s condition.
Socially, certain life experiences can also affect mental health. Some examples are conflicts between parents and children, peer pressure, sudden lifestyle changes, extreme stress, relationship conflicts, and others. It can also be an effect of post-traumatic stress after one goes through a shocking event.
There are no fixed symptoms of mental health issues as they manifest differently depending on the person. It can appear as sleeping problems, chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, or problems with concentration. In severe cases, one may experience hopelessness or lack of interest in life. If you or someone you know are experiencing any of these symptoms, or if you see any signs of PTSD in women such as nightmares, self-blame, or self-isolation, it is best to seek help from professionals.
Before mental health issues can affect their quality of life, there are steps that women can take in order to care for their overall health and well-being. Here are some of them:
- Get Adequate Sleep
While irregular sleep could be a symptom mental health issues, it can also be the cause of it. When you don’t get enough sleep, your mind and body fails to function properly, leading to a host of other issues which include anxiety and depression.
An average adult needs about 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, but pregnant women need more since their body heals and recovers from the day’s activities. Set a regular sleeping routine to adjust your body clock to a regular sleeping routine, then dim the lights and block out noises from your bedroom to create an environment that is conducive to sleep. You may also consider aromatherapy and ambient sounds to help you relax, so your body can ease faster into a sleeping state.
However, there are instances when sleep problems are caused by a medical condition. In the US, more than 25% of women are unable to sleep properly due to insomnia, while others are affected by sleep apnea, hormonal changes, or restless leg syndrome. For cases like this, you should consult a doctor to identify the cause of your sleep problems and ask for treatment.
- Try Something New
You may not realize it, but your fear of the unknown may be the one causing your anxiety. You can get trapped in a cycle of avoidance and mental paralysis as your anxiety increases the more you try to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone.
Break the cycle by taking small steps towards change. You need to face your fears in order to realize that there is nothing to be afraid of in the first place. Do new things that you have always been interested in but were scared to try. You can start by doing it in a controlled environment in order to minimize your exposure, or you can ask someone you trust to take that step with you and be your source of emotional support.
For example, if you are afraid of crowds, you can start by visiting small coffee shops or restaurants where there are fewer people and the ambiance is more subdued. Bring a close friend or loved one with you in the beginning, then slowly let go and venture out by yourself. As you get more comfortable, you can try to elevate the experience and slowly expose yourself to bigger crowds and venues.
- Exercise Regularly And Maintain Proper Diet
Your physical health plays a role in your mental health as well. Keeping your body fit and healthy is already a big step towards your mental and emotional well-being. Regular exercise will not only keep your muscles and organs in good shape, but will also trigger your body to release a chemical called endorphin, which is responsible towards lifting your mood and making you feel good.
Exercise does not have to be a strenuous activity. Even simple walks in the park, cleaning around the house, or playing around in the garden are enough as long as you keep yourself active. Find one that you enjoy doing and turn it into a routine that you can maintain for a long period of time. Then supplement it with proper diet, so your brain receives enough nutrition to enable it to function well and let you cope with the stress and challenges that you may encounter every day.