Tag Archives: go red for women

On Thriving: How to be a woman in difficult times

The list of challenges affecting women is long. For one, women are more prone to certain diagnoses. They are twice as likely as men to experience depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and PTSD, and much more likely to battle body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Pay inequity, caregiving responsibilities, and gender-based violence are among the contributing risk factors to common mental health conditions. Infertility, menopause, and postpartum depression also affect many. Women are vastly underrepresented in psychology research and medical research in general.  Even our empirical data is not truly representative of women’s actual needs and outcomes.

Physical and emotional caregiving roles — as daughters, mothers, partners, colleagues, and leaders can result in heavier burdens. Then there’s being underrepresented in upper level leadership at work, navigating status as a woman of color or member of the LGBTQ+ community, enduring sexual harassment, dealing with imposter syndrome, juggling parental leave (women still do the vast majority of housekeeping and child care, And this has only increased since the pandemic), and maintain the preponderance of emotional caretaking roles in pretty much all domains. Many of these challenges are often largely invisible, since women may be reluctant to discuss them at all, much less at work or even with family. Many women may not be inclined to “other” themselves further by disclosing a mental health challenge.

Black and brown women in particular are hesitant to seek mental health services, in part due to stigma, lack of resources, lack of cultural competency or training within the mental health profession, and the superwoman syndrome.

The term ego-syntonic refers to a mental state that just feels normative. The Superwoman with the Cape is an everyday reality for many women.  However, it is not sustainable.  Also see Take Off the Cape.

How to untangle:

Reflect on your needs.

  • First, think through the nature of your mental health and your specific vulnerabilities or challenges. Is it chronic, episodic, or a one-time event?
  • Consider the contributing factors. Are they work-related or limited to your personal life? Is there a gender-specific component, like childcare or workplace discrimination, that might make you more reluctant to discuss the problem at work? -Be clear about the effects. Is your mental health challenge affecting your work performance, family and friendships, your personal health?

Talk with a friend, family member, or therapist about your concerns.

  • Try to brainstorm the potential asks that you could make at work to support yourself.
  • You may also want to get advice from a women’s circle or ask female friends to recommend therapists, books, or podcasts that focus on gender.
  • Consider whether seeking out the mental health benefits and other resources your employer provides (such as healthcare coverage to see a therapist or psychiatrist) is sufficient or if you need an accommodation (such as starting your workday later, having regular meetings with your team to breakdown tasks, or having extended deadlines for major projects).
    It may help to educate yourself about the legal protections available to you. Under ADA law, if you are undergoing treatment with a licensed doctor/mental health professional, your treatment and requested accommodations cannot be used against you, especially in a company with 15 or more employees.

Find allies and safe spaces.

  • Given the stigma often associated with mental health concerns or challenges, finding a safe space to tell your story and receive support from allies is a critical step. Simply realizing that you’re not alone can go a long way, especially when you may be feeling othered because of your gender. Peer support is a powerful lever to reduce stigma.
  • Even outside of work, allies can teach us empathy and resilience, can spur creativity, and can fuel our goals and ambition. Having friends who provide emotional support and vice versa is highly affiliated with mental health.

For more info see Depression, Women and Heart Health.

National Wear Red Day: Depression, Women, and Heart Health

Many of us are wearing red today to raise awareness about women, cardiovascular disease, and I’m going to add mental health. Women are twice as likely as men to develop depression. Depression is a risk factor for heart disease.

While the exact relationship between depression and heart disease is still being studied, enough is known to raise awareness about the dangers of depression on heart health. Research shows that even mild forms of depression or its symptoms increase the chance of heart disease in women by two to three times.

Women are at greater risk for depression than men for a variety of reasons, including certain biological, hormonal and social factors that are unique to women. Research shows that people with depression are more likely to have poor heart health. A study by the American Heart Association found depression could be a barrier to living a heart healthy lifestyle. Some of the symptoms of depression make it challenging for women to take care of themselves and make healthy choices. Often, women with depression sleep too much or not enough, feel fatigued, have little interest in doing things and lack energy – none of which are conducive to sticking with a healthy diet or cardiovascular exercise program. In a large number of households, women are still the primary caregivers for children and the main source of house work and meal preparation, whether or not they work outside of the home.

Women may try to deal with their depression through self-soothing but harmful behaviors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or comfort eating. In fact, women with high levels of depression are more likely to be obese, abuse alcohol and other substances, or smoke.

Knowing the symptoms of heart disease in women can help especially in deciding when to seek medical care. Women often show a subtle presentation of heart related problems, including fatigue, aches and pains, headaches, nausea and stomach upset, and an overall feeling of malaise. Knowing the symptoms of depression is also crucial even though they may get less attention at first. It’s extremely important to be under the care of a physician or mental health professional who understands the interactive role of depression and heart health.

See goredforwomen.org for more information.
Also see my post about high functioning depression, a common phenomenon for women: Smiling Depression.

Embolden Psychology
Embolden

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

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