I saw a headline on the BBC News website recently that shocked me and I was even more shocked when I reached the end of the article. The headline? “Young Women at Highest Mental Health Risk”. I know that young women feel so many pressures these days but had never consciously extrapolated that into real life mental health issues in such high incidence. I think it’s important that all young women should get acquainted with this issue.
The very first thing that we need to do as a society is understand that depression isn’t just a matter of ‘feeling down’. It’s a real, serious health condition that requires and can be made infinitely better by appropriate treatment. Many make the mistake of thinking that their feelings of sadness and desperation will pass when they might actually need professional help, and part of the journey is to remove the stigma to make reaching out for mental health help much more accessible.
The study reported by the BBC, which obviously gives UK statistics, showed an alarming increase in self harming (26% of the study), a common manifestation of dealing with depression for young women. It also reports that 16-24 year women are 3 times more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety than men of the same age. Other stats include that more young women report Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome than men and that more females are screened for bipolar disorder.
And this issue isn’t unique to the UK.
A recent study in the United States discovered that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression at some point in their lives as men. Whether this is because of the different types of worldly responsibilities and expectations women face or perhaps a matter of physical and genetic difference, the fact remains that females are twice as vulnerable and therefore should be as educated on the topic as possible
Did you know that approximately 12 million women experience a clinical depression every single year in the United States? Though you might be the only person in your personal social group to suffer these feelings, it’s important to learn that you are absolutely not alone in what you are going through, and there will always be people and organisations that you can turn to for help.
Studies have proved to show that depression occurs most commonly in women aged between 25 and 44, and that is a huge age range in terms of life experience. Never brush off your feelings by thinking that you are either too young or too old to have ‘real depression’; though there certainly are more common ages, mental health problems can affect any woman of any age, regardless of circumstances.
Some women don’t associate feelings of depression with physical, biological factors, but the truth is that depression and other mental health issues can be triggered by things like changing hormones, childbirth, infertility, menopause, your premenstrual cycle, all things that can be treated medically in order to try to help you out.
Of course, social factors can also play a part in the development of mental health problems. The responsibilities of modern life including work related stress, family responsibilities, gender expectations, and the complicated world of sex with the potential for abuse, can all be factors in the onset of depression. The researchers and experts commenting on the study results have brought the issue of social media into the equation with many believing it has a negative effect on people’s well-being. Just because you struggle with something that friends and family might not, it doesn’t make you any less of a person but social media generates a competitive nature, envy and feelings of inadequacy.
It is a sad fact that fewer than half of the women in the United States who experience a clinical depression will ever seek help, and trying to fight this problem alone can lead to terrible outcomes like attempted suicide. It’s 2016: there has never been a better or more accepting time to admit that you are struggling with your mental health, so please don’t suffer in silence. Speak to a friend, a family member, a professional, anybody that will listen and try to find a way to help you through this difficult time.
The important message:
Please understand there is a difference between feeling blue or a little down and suffering mental health illness. If you have the latter, you owe it yourself to seek diagnosis and help assistance from a professional,
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