Women more prone to mental problems

Right from the time a girl becomes a woman, her general life is compartmentalised into different small cubicles of lover, wife, mother, cook, and career woman.

As if these expectations are not enough, a woman is bombarded in the media by images of the ‘perfect’ woman who can do it all – look after the home, raise perfect children, and be the most beautiful wife a man would wish to have.

There is a psychological cost attached to playing these multiple roles to perfection. The stress that comes with having to be a high achiever can leave a woman feeling like a failure, as if she does not have what it takes to make it in life.

Some wonder where the years have gone when they see the speed at which their peers are progressing in life.

These feelings can lead to anxiety and depression. These two conditions, when they become chronic, can make the sufferer more vulnerable to mental illness.

John Amanya, a psychiatric clinical officer at the National Care Centre, says although there are no official statistics about mental health in relation to gender, most of the patients he counsels are women.

“There are many factors that lead to mental illness, but with women, it usually begins with anxiety. Relationship issues cause anxiety, especially when her spouse stops caring. If he no longer loves her and shows it, or stops buying food, paying school fees, and the rent, this anxiety will quickly develop into depression.”

Work related problems also lead to depression in women because they are vulnerable to the bullying antics of their male colleagues.

“Some women are under pressure to have relationships with their bosses or supervisors. If she does not want to, her work life may become hard,” says Amanya.

Because of discrimination in the workplace, some women find that though they do the same work as their male counterparts, they are paid less. With time, this condition can lead to depression.

Women, by nature, internalise their emotions. When a woman is faced with an aersary or a negative situation, she will keep the emotions to herself, and consequently, suffer withdrawal symptoms like depression and a sense of loneliness.

Men, on the other hand, find it easier to express their emotions through antisocial behaviour and substance abuse.

A 2011 study, published online, in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, found that the ability to either internalise or externalise emotions, has accounted for the imbalance in the prevalence of mental illness between men and women.

The reason women suffer more from depression is that they focus on their problems and emotions rather than taking steps to solving those problems. Women should be pro-active in tacking the root of a difficult situation instead of sitting back and letting it affect them emotionally.




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