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Mental Health and Women

Thursday, January 29th, 2009 Mental Health and Women

Daniel Martin of the Mail (28 01 09) writes in relation to the increase in middle age women suffering both depression and anxiety.

Indeed, researchers found that a quarter of the 45-54 age group head experienced some mental health disorders in 2007. this figure is up one fifth since 1993.

It is not difficult to ascertain a guess as to the causes. Experts have stated that the stresses of balancing home, work caring of sick relatives and feelings of isolation beyond the children flying the nest are all contributory factors.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that those who grew up in the sixties are more likely than previous generations to feel that they have under achieved and more significantly, they are unhappy with their looks.

The male gender do not escape completely. Figures suggest 14.5% were found to be depressed, anxious- similar levels to that seen in the nineties.

The dilemma of middle-age women is highlighted by Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation charity who says ‘These women are finding it increasingly difficult to balance home and work - and many are being put under stress because they have to care for parents with dementia.

‘There is an emptiness with this generation, and mothers get lonely when their kids go off to university.

‘We also have a society which promotes the 20-year-old ideal of a bikini body, leaving older women feeling redundant. This relentless bombardment of youth can make even the most sophisticated woman feel depressed.

‘Finally, this is the age when people question what they have achieved. But standards have never been higher for women.

‘They are more unhappy than previous generations, not because they are worse off, but because their expectations are higher. ‘GPs don’t seem to understand that among women, it is the middle-aged that are most at risk of suicide. It’s not a hopeless situation but it does seem to be a crisis.’

The NHS Information Centre carried out the survey. Their findings were that patients were said to have a ‘common mental disorder’ if they had experienced anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, depression, or had obsessive compulsive disorder in the past week.

They were also asked if they had symptoms such as fatigue, forgetfulness, sleep problems and irritability, which can also be evidence of mental health issues.

Among women of all ages, in England, 21.5 per cent have mental health problems - up from 19.1 per cent in 1993.

According to the survey, female pensioners are more than twice as likely to have mental problems than men.

Women were more likely than men to experience all types of problems. For instance, they are three times more likely to have a phobia. And the proportion reporting suicidal thoughts in the past year rose from 4.2 per cent in 2000 to 5.5 per cent in 2007.

Nevertheless, up to 20 per cent of females between 16 and 24 also experience depression or anxiety.

But married women are far less likely to be depressed or anxious than singletons or those who cohabit.

However, the only group of men who are more anxious or depressed than women were recent divorcees.

The problem Dr McCulloch faces are that ‘Mental health problems remain extremely common, yet only a quarter of people with a mental health problem are receiving treatment.’

Tory health spokesman Anne Milton said: ‘The Government has not focused enough on people’s wellbeing or on the reasons why people develop mental health problems.’
But Care Services Minister Phil Hope said: ‘We will be investing an extra £173million in psychological therapies by 2010-11 - therapies which are already helping to transform lives.’

In conclusion there are no easy solutions to hand.

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