TIRUCHY: Though data show men outnumber women in approaching hospitals for mental health issues, psychiatrists in Tiruchy opine the numbers do not reflect the reality. They stated at least 25 per cent of women are suffering from depression and anxiety and hardly visit psychiatrists due to stigma and lack of support from husbands and in-laws. They added most married women visiting them are usually accompanied by their parents.
As Women’s Day approaches, we take a look at one of the most important health problems faced and often ignored by women - depression and anxiety. According to government psychiatrists, depression and anxiety are twice as more common in females and affect 25 per cent of women. 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 women, combined with hormonal changes at different points of life, makes them more prone to depression and anxiety. “Women’s 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 also causes depression. “Both men and women face stress. However, a woman’s day-to-day responsibilities carry 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 up with their stress, while women do not, because of their social situations,” said Dr R Geetha, Director, Athma Hospital, Tiruchy.
While there is a stigma surrounding mental health, it is more so for women. Doctors cite lack of support as one of the major reasons. “Women just keep on adjusting. They do not come for treatment. Women lack support from their families. Most women who come to us, come with their parents, not husbands. While a woman is a caregiver, men often do not react well to their wives’ mental health problems,” said Niranjana. Women, being the caregivers, 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.