Did you know that women experience twice as much depression as men? Would that be because we’re more sensitive? I think not. The explanation which best fits is that we are more affected by hormonal shifts which influence our brain chemistry, particulary around times when our lives change dramatically-like pregnancy and post-birth.
In fact, 1 in 8 women will experience a clinical episode of depression, anxiety, etc. during pregnancy, postpartum and menopause, which is greater than the occurence of most health conditions. So, what will it take for emotional health to become an integral part of women’s health? Why aren’t women being routinely screened for mood and anxiety conditions? How can health conditions which have such a profound impact on developing families continue to be ignored?
I was having this conversation Friday with a local journalist and told him that women must lead the charge like we’ve done with breast cancer. We must come forward and share our stories to support each other in getting the help we need and deserve. We must be prepared to educate our health providers and make it clear that we expect to be cared for-body, mind, heart and soul. We must challenge our own biases about anxiety and depression, and accept them as “health conditions” just like heart disease or diabetes.
Ghandi said, “Become the change you want to see in the world.”
To learn more about hormones and mood, read Women’s Moods about pregnancy and postpartum, The Wisdom of Menopause, and visit www.womenshealth.gov.