TIRUCHY: Depression and anxiety have become common words these days and associated more to women. Psychiatrists whom TNIE spoke to said it was myth that men were affected by depression and anxiety. Further, they attributed lack of clinching data to bust the myth to stigma and lack of support from families of the women in need of professional help.
They cited examples where married women approaching them were accompanied by parents than husbands. Despite increasing awareness on mental health and steps by the government to erase the stigma around it, women still do not come for treatment, rue doctors at both private and government hospitals.
Doctors say the inherent nature of a woman, combined with hormonal changes at different points of life, makes them vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
“Their biology and hormonal imbalance cause depression. During pregnancy, after pregnancy, after menopause, during menopause, women go through major hormonal changes. These changes affect women greatly,” said Dr Niranjana, Head of the Department of Psychiatry, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital (MGMGH).
Besides biological reasons, stress is key trigger to depression. “Both men and women face stress. However, a woman’s day-to-day responsibilities carry an inherent stress. Men get money, power and appreciation which alleviate their stress. When women do not get these for their work, it causes problems. Men have a lot of ways to cope with stress, while women do not, because of their social situations,” said Dr R Geetha, Director, Athma Hospital, Tiruchy.
Women, being the care givers, often lack time to visit doctors. “Women tend to ignore and repress their problems. They do it for almost everything, including mental health. Their family members also fail to notice their problems,” said Geetha. Such is the stigma, doctors say women patients do not acknowledge them in public.
Help at hand
District mental health programmes are helping in reaching out to primary health centres and rural parts of Tamil Nadu. Pudukkottai district mental health department has formed mental health ambassador clubs in schools and colleges to make mental health a day-to-day topic. Every Thursday is celebrated as ‘Mental Health Thursday’.
“We want to create awareness, make people identify others in distress and teach people how to approach a problem. We hope to remove the stigma associated with mental health,” said Dr Karthik Deivanayagam, district psychiatrist, Pudukkottai.