There is immense stigma attached to mental health in our societies. How do we fight this stigma and seek help when we actually need it?
Women are known for their strengths, their patience, dignity, unconditional love and care towards the family. They are the true pillars of the family. We can’t ignore the stress a woman goes through at different stages of her life. Here I would like to focus on biological stressors in a women’s life like menstruation, pregnancy, delivery, infertility and menopause. At times, these can also present with psychological issues. I feel every woman should be given the opportunity to address these issues. Let’s explore possible arising issues.
Premenstrual and mental health
A common presentation is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) which occurs 1-2 weeks before menses and resolves with onset of menses. Psychological Symptoms associated with PMS can be Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Irritability, Sense of feeling overwhelmed, and Sensitivity to rejection and Social withdrawal. Most of the women are able to manage these symptoms but when this mood disturbance results in marked social or occupational impairment and affects interpersonal functioning, then it is called Premenstrual Dysphoric disorder (PMDD). If you experience this, you should be seeing a psychiatrist who can help you.
Pregnancy and mental health
20% of the women are likely to develop mood and anxiety disorders in the pregnancy. If you have experienced depression in the past, you are more likely to be depressed in next pregnancy. Therefore, it is better that pregnancy be discussed with gynecologist and psychiatrist so you are monitored well during pregnancy. Women also experience depression post delivery which is called post natal depression, some go through a transient psychosis called post partum psychosis. This needs to be detected and treated on time to ensure mother’s psychological well being.
Infertility and mental health-Stress, anxiety and depression are common in women who have fertility issues and also in those who are undergoing infertility treatment. Infertility treatment can also exacerbate existing psychiatric conditions. Women with a history of depression, for example, are more likely than other women with fertility issues to become depressed during treatment. Counseling, relaxation techniques, psychotherapy and medication can help.
Menopausal and mental health
Mood disorders like depression are common at menopausal transition. It can also be associated by stress, anxiety and sleep problems. Your gynecologist will prescribe you HRT and other relevant medication but if the problems persist, please see a psychiatrist who can help you with these issues.
In my next article, I would be talking about the social stressors in a women’s life and how they should be managed.