Women’s Mental Health

Women can often experience concerns with their mental health. Among the most commonly reported issues are depression and anxiety. There are even different types of depression that are exclusive to women, such as perinatal and perimenopausal depression (depression caused by hormonal changes), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, perimenopause-related depression, and postpartum depression.

Here are some common symptoms to keep an eye out for:

Persistent sadness or feelings of hopelessness

Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs

Appetite and/or weight changes

Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits

Decreased energy or fatigue

Excessive fear or worry

Seeing or hearing things that are not there

Extremely high and low moods

Thoughts of suicide


Social withdrawal

Aches, headaches, or digestive problems without a clear cause

Although it is common for everyone to feel down from time to time, most people experience only mild feelings of sadness.  People experiencing depression or anxiety often have persistent feelings of sadness or fear, even when good things happen to them. They may have trouble with everyday tasks such as focusing on work and making simple decisions.

Symptoms of depression include feelings of hopelessness and loss of interest, a decrease in pleasurable or joyful feelings, trouble concentrating and making decisions, fatigue, disruptions in normal sleep, such as an increase or decrease in the amount of sleep, and either a decrease or increase in appetite.  Common symptoms of anxiety include restlessness, tension, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty controlling worry.

What should you do?

If you feel you or someone you know is experiencing uncomfortable feelings of depression, anxiety, or uneasiness, do not ignore the symptoms. These conditions are treatable. Often individuals who are experiencing mental health issues can begin to feel much better by following these simple steps:

Tell someone! Although it may be hard to reach for that phone, support from others can help people who are experiencing similar symptoms. Tell a friend, and call a counselor, therapist or psychologist. This support system can provide you with encouragement and help to sort out solutions. Research shows talk therapies are very effective in treating depression.  There are many trained therapists at Genesis Counseling Center that can help. Just call 757-827-7707 or your nearest Genesis office.

Get moving! Exercise is known to cause an increase in the pleasurable chemicals in the brain. A simple increase in activity, such as going for a walk can help.

Improve your Nutrition! Monitoring your nutritional intake can have a huge impact on your emotional well-being.  Eating the right foods can give you energy without giving you a “groggy” feeling. There are even certain vitamins and minerals that can have a direct effect on feelings of depression, such as folate, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, and omega-3. Not everyone’s body has the same needs, so talk to your healthcare professional about the right diet for you.

Get a good night’s Sleep! Life is much easier to face when you are well rested. Practicing good sleep hygiene can have a monumental effect on how you feel throughout the day.  Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Limit screen time at night. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon. Develop a routine that helps you wind down for the last hour before bedtime.

If your symptoms are severely negatively impacting your life, you may also want to talk to your physician. It is always very important to notify your doctor of changes in your physical and mental health. Depression and anxiety can sometimes be related to other physical conditions (for example: thyroid issues, diabetes, cancer treatment, post-surgery recovery from anesthesia, and more).  Additionally, there are medications which can help to improve mood in severe cases. Research shows that some people experiencing moderate to severe depression need both the support and help of counseling as well as medication.


NIMH On Anxiety

NIMH On Women’s Mental Health

Women’s Mental Health Government Website


Article compiled by Sarah Warner, MS

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