Feb 13, 2015

Mental Health in Women #womenslives

(Photo Credit)
I may talk frequently about my twin sister having anxiety, but mental health disorders were common in our family with my grandmother and other female relatives suffering from bipolar disorder to major depression. Since we're talking about women's issues this week (Thanks to the Across Women's Lives initiative.), I figured we could discuss mental health and the gender bias you didn't know about!
A shocking infographic about mental health in women. (Photo Credit)

According to a study from the World Health Organization, doctors are more likely to diagnose depression in women than men, even if they score the same on the diagnosis scale. Not bad, right? Not so fast! Doctors are also more likely to prescribe mind-altering drugs to women than to men, keeping the myth alive that women are "crazy", instead of focusing on the fact that as a woman in today's society, her feelings of sadness or anger could be appropriate - and understandable - responses to life's difficulties. (But make no mistake - if you are having many symptoms of the depression, go see a doctor!)

To make matter worse, some women of different ethnic backgrounds even have trouble getting the help they need because of the stereotypes that are flowing through our society. According to one interview I saw, an African American woman was barred from her church because she was diagnosed with a mental illness. She was even arrested (because the police didn't believe that she had a mental illness). Once at the police station, the officers thought she was "on drugs" or "drunk" and left her in cell for sixteen hours!
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Even though women are known to be strong, some who suffer from mental health problems are ashamed to say, "I have this [mental health issue] and this is who I am!" for fear of being ridiculed, embarrassed, or even shunned. The media (and society, for that matter) has forever perpetuated the myth that women suffer from some sort of "madness disease" that only affects women or even bringing up the stereotypes of women of color in today's society.

How can we change the way society - and the medical field - looks at mental health in women?

10 comments:

  1. Good post. I'm retweeting this for #womenslives!

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    1. Thank you, Stephanie! The more we get this information out there, the more we can help women who suffer from mental illness.

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  2. I have depression but didn't know it for a long time. I never had energy, I had trouble sleeping, I had a hard time motivating myself. I had a preconceived idea in my head that depression meant you were sad all the time and maybe even had suicidal thoughts none of which were true for me. Luckily I decided to talk about it to my doctor. I thought I was going in to talk about insomnia and he diagnosed depression and gave me a mild prescription that help me a lot. Not all meds are bad if given appropriately

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    1. Angie,

      Thank is a very good point! Not all drugs prescribed for depression are mind-altering, as long as the doctor knows which ones will take care of the symptoms instead. I am so glad that you have a great doctor that knows the difference!

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  3. Sadly, the stigma attached to mental health issues makes it difficult to have open conversations with others. We need more dialogue, more media, and better education to help people understand that it is an important subject worthy of discussion.

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    1. Absolutely, Eliz! The more people know about how mental illness affects everyone (not just women), the less likely people will judge someone that suffers.

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  4. True, it's always best to see a doctor right away. Thanks for this informative post.

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    1. Yes, it always better to see a doctor if you know something isn't right!

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  5. It's great that you're raising awareness of this. We need to take care of all people suffering from any kind of mental illness and remove the stigma so they can ask for the help they need.

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    1. Thank you, Lois! These people need help, but can't get what treatment they need because they're afraid to speak out. We need to help them find their voice.

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