Women and Mental Health

May 1-7 has been Mental Health awareness week.

One in three Americans struggles with mental illness but the rate is much higher in women.  Research shows that women are 40% more likely to develop depression than men.  It is not clear why mental illness is more common among women but doctors have come up with a number of possibilities.

Discrimination, Trauma and stressful life experiences

Trauma is common among women with half of them experiencing some form of trauma in their lifetime.  One in four women have faced an attempted or a completed sexual assault.  Reportedly, one in three are abused by a domestic partner.  Gender discrimination, violence and mistreatment undermine a woman’s mental health.  Stress is a predictor of mental illness.  Women juggle housework, kids even while working fulltime.  They report that they have to work harder to get the same credit as men and worry about the gender wage gap.  They have to deal with sexual harassment and discrimination in workplaces where these are commonplace.  These challenges can significantly affect a woman’s ability to cope and her self-esteem.

Hormonal Issues

Women produce lower quantities of serotonin than men due to differences in hormone levels and this deficiency can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting

41% or women suffer from some form of postpartum depression.  Some of them are overwhelmed by the demands of parenting, especially in the early days.  I remember that there were times when I felt that I was drowning–in over my head.  Once I even cried out while I was holding my toddler.  Thankfully I had God and a very supportive partner.  It helped when he came home and I had an adult to talk to. Not all women are as blessed.  Research shows that women who don’t have supportive partners, experience traumatic births, live in poverty or a highly stressed will most likely develop postpartum depression.  

Gender bias is another problem women face.  Some research suggests that doctors tend to label women’s symptoms as emotional while taking the men’s symptoms more seriously.  So, a woman who reports that she is experiencing chronic pain to her doctor might be labeled as depressed.  This happens because we live in a world where gender discrimination exists and women are seen as more emotional and less rational.  

In many countries, the way health workers spoke to the women made it difficult for them to disclose their psychological and emotional distress.  And when they worked up the courage to disclose their problems, they were either over-treated or under treated by many of the health workers.

I read in an article in The Globe And Mail that women are getting the prescription that is available more often than the treatment they need.  They are getting medication to solve their problems even when science finds that treatments such as psychotherapy is equally or in some cases more effective without the side effects.  Bias in mental health care is a hindrance to women, preventing them from getting the proper help they need.  Not much effort goes into researching how drugs affect female patients.  While drug companies like to bombard women with their pills, most of their clinical trials have been dominated by men.  And the ironic thing is that the disorders most commonly diagnosed in women such as depression, anxiety and insomnia are the ones most likely to respond to therapy.  Most women are likely to prefer therapy over drugs.  

According to Dr. Marina Morrow, a Simon Fraser University psychologist who studies gender and mental health, “Women aren’t getting access to the range of care they need.”  She believes that an effective approach to this would be to include medication when necessary but in also offer therapy, peer support and pinpoint what social circumstances lead to the illness.

It has been argued that therapy is the safer, more effective and cheaper choice.  The authors of a 2015 study by Canadian and U.S. researchers concluded that, “There remains no sound justification to prescribe drugs without first trying therapy.  Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health, believes that “the way we fund therapies in Canada does not make sense right now.”  She wrote a letter to Quebec’s health minister to make the point that even if 20 per cent of seniors with insomnia received Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with is used to treat insomnia, the cost-savings to the system could be in the hundreds of millions, based on the potential falls that would be avoided.  Therapy saves on costly and debilitating falls and hip fractures.  

We live in a country where medication is favored over psychotherapy and women are more likely than men to be prescribed antidepressants and sedatives as seniors and as a result they are at a higher risk of suffering from adverse effects.  Hopefully more women and those in the medical profession will speak out against the bias that is prevalent in the mental health care.  Doctors and those in the health care system need to give women more choices when it comes to treatment.  It’s their health so they should have the right to determine how they want to proceed once they have been diagnosed.

depressed woman

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Christmas Shopping

It’s that time of the year.  Malls are packed with people as they try to get their Christmas shopping done. Whenever I go into the mall and I go in and out of the stores, I am reminded why I don’t like shopping and can’t understand why people are shopaholics.  I only go to the mall when it is absolutely necessary.

Thankfully, my husband and I have finished our shopping.  I have discovered that it’s easier and less stressful to find out what people want instead of trying to figure it out.  My family and I ask each other what we want, make our lists and then pick one or two things from the lists. Everyone is happy because we get what we asked for as opposed to getting gifts we have no idea what to do with.

Don’t stress yourself out.  Get a list of things the person might want or find out from someone who might know.  For example, I ask my sister what I could get for our mother and she gives me suggestions.  I did the same when she wanted to know what to get for my son.  Doing it this way is a sure way of not spending endless hours in the mall trying to get something you think the person might like.

For kids you can ask their parents.  If you have kids of your own, you should have an idea of what they like.  With the new Star Wars movie out, some parents are probably getting Yoda (my favorite SW character) or R2-D2 or the action figures.  I just visited the Toys R Us site and they already have lots of items from The Force Awakens.  I can imagine how busy the stores are. My husband and I are weaning our son off of toys and the action figures.  He is reading more now so I suggested to my sister that she could get books for him.  I also suggested getting a journal as he likes to write stories or a drawing book because he likes to draw.  However, as a surprise and a treat I think he deserves for doing well at school, I bought the Lego Obi Wan Kanobi for him and was delighted when I got a complimentary gift wrap.  So, I have one less gift to wrap.  Kids are easier to buy for.  They let you know what they like.   And what a joy it is to see their faces when they unwrap those presents and see the things they wished for.

Don’t spend too much.  And it depends on how many people you are buying gifts for.  I was buying for four people so I set a budget for $200.00 but I tried not to spend more than $180.00. This year, I ended up spending around $160.00, this included cards, stamps and gift bags.  I was determined not to spend more than $30.00 for a gift and look for the items that were on sale.  The most I ended up spending on a gift this time around was $33.00 and change.

Don’t wait until the week of Christmas to go shopping.  Too stressful. The parking lots of the shopping malls were full to capacity and the lines to get in and out were ridiculous.  It took my husband about over twenty minutes just to turn the corner so that I could come and pick me up. Almost everything you want is gone.  I went to get long johns for him and there weren’t any in his size.  I promised myself that next year I will shop either during the last week in November or in the first week of December.

When you have done all of your shopping and gift-wrapping, you can breathe a sigh of relief and take a break.  Then, start planning your Christmas dinner menu….

stressed shopper

Honesty in Relationships

Were you honest going into your marriage? I just started reading the book, What Every Wife Wants Her Husband to Know by Annie Chapman.  One husband complained that his wife had changed the rules after they got married.  She behaved one way before they got married and a completely different way after they got married.  Before they got married, she didn’t have a problem going hunting with him.  Weather was not a factor or the time of day or the terrain too tough.

However, after they got married, she stopped going hunting with him altogether.  It seems she was willing to do whatever was necessary to win him and end up at the altar. Once she had accomplished that, she didn’t see the need to impress him anymore.  It turned that he too changed since they got married.  Chapman says, “When we win our spouses with one kind of behavior and then change the rules after the marriage vows are spoken, we have practiced deception” (page 20).

Granted things change after we have children.  We are not free to do the things we used to do when we were dating but arrangements can be made.  If we are truly serious about preserving our marriage, we would do whatever it takes to do so.  We can have the kids sleep over at their grandparents or have a babysitter come over and we go out for dinner or to the movie or spend a romantic weekend at a hotel.

If you are engaged to be married, ask yourself if you are marrying him for love or for another reason.  I know some women marry because they don’t want to be lonely or it’s convenient or they don’t want to end up a spinster.  I have a cousin who obviously wasn’t marrying for love.  On the day of her wedding, she said about, “The next time I get married…” She hadn’t even walked down the aisle as yet and she was thinking about her next wedding?!?  Not surprisingly, this first marriage did not last.  Things had gotten pretty bad between her and her husband after they got married.  Once she even called the police on him.  He is now in a new relationship and she is unmarried.  Thankfully they didn’t have any children.

As I mentioned before, some couples get along nicely until they get married.  One or both of them change and the real person comes out.  Had she seen this side of him or he seen this side of her, the marriage would never have taken place.  Consider your feelings and motives before entering into marriage.  Be honest with yourself and your intended.

conflict

Beaten for Her Faith

I got this email from Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Imagine beating a child for what she believes.  As a Christian mother, I am proud of my faith and encourage it in my child.  I pray that when he grows up and has his own family, he and his wife will raise godly children who will stand up for Jesus no matter what.  I admire this little girl’s courage.  Keep her in your prayers.  Pray for her father as he continues in his faith.  Pray for her mother and uncle and all of those who oppose the Christian faith.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven – Matthew 10:32

BAHRAIN: Child Beaten for Her Faith
Source: VOM USA

I Believe in Jesus
A 10-year-old girl was badly beaten recently by her mother and uncle after she told them she believed in Jesus.
The girl’s father has been a believer for several years and is open with his family about his faith. During a recent conversation with her mother and uncle, the girl was asked what she believed. This was her reply: “I believe what my dad believes. I believe in Jesus.”

The child’s mother and uncle immediately began to beat her, leaving her badly bruised. Despite the beating, the girl and her father remain committed to following Christ.

Ask God to grant physical and emotional healing to this young girl as she recovers from the ordeal. May her faith grow stronger each day, despite the pressure she will surely continue to face. Thank the Lord that her father is also a believer, and pray that he will be a source of comfort and strength for his daughter as she follows Jesus. Finally, pray for the girl’s mother and uncle, that they may also come to accept Christ as their Saviour and Lord.

For more stories about children facing opposition for their faith, as well as activities and videos geared especially for kids, please visit VOM’s website for children at www.KidsofCourage.com.

Mother’s Day Gift

Mother’s Day is very special for me.  I love getting cards from my four year old.  I enjoy going to the annual Mother’s Day tea party held at his daycare because I get to see him interact with other kids and I get to chat with his teachers but most of all, I get to spend time with him in his environment.

For me the best gift was the miracle I was given from God four years ago.  I will never forget the day my son looked up at me with his big beautiful eyes as he lay on the hospital bed.  His face was the only visible thing because he was wrapped in the blanket.

I became a mother late in life but for me it was the right time.  I had met the man of my dreams and I was ready to have a family.  Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, girls and women are forced to become mothers before they are ready.  In the Cameroon, early and forced marriage is a practice that is harmful to a girl’s health and well-being.

Association for the Promotion of Girls’ and Women’s Rights (APAD) empowers survivors of early and forced marriage in the Extreme North region of Cameroon, Africa, and educates communities about the intrinsic human rights of girls, including the right to choose when and whom to marry. Led by young women who escaped or avoided forced marriage, APAD is the only organization of its kind in the region (source:  globalgiving).

This year help to support the global movement to ensure every girl’s and woman’s right to a just and healthy life and the fundamental right to choose when to marry and have children.  Give the gift of hope today by sending a card to a loved one.  Not only will you brighten their day but you will be making a difference in someone else’s life.

International Women's Health Coalition
Give a gift this Mother’s Day that will last much longer than flowers.
Honor a special woman in your life by supporting IWHC’s partner APAD, a local organization that empowers survivors of early and forced marriage in the Extreme North region of Cameroon. Your loved one will receive a personalized card electronically or through the mail.APAD educates communities about the intrinsic human rights of girls, including the right to choose when to marry and when to become mothers.With each card you send, you support a global movement of women who are working to ensure the right of every girl and woman to a just and healthy life.
www.iwhc.org communications@iwhc.org
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Backyardigans

Some time ago I learned who created The Backyardigans.  I love the show.  I used to put it on for my toddler to watch but I ended up watching it while he was busy doing something else.  He’s more into Caillou, Bo on the Go, Super Why, Mighty Machines and other shows.

I liked The Backyardigans because of its premise–friends coming together and having adventures by using their imaginations.  The show teaches kids how to be creative. 

I read an interview of the show’s creator, Janice Burgess.  She went from being corporate to creative and the ideas for the show came from unlikely sources–action movies. 

I know this is going to sound very strange, but the things I really draw upon are action films. I like “Die Hard,” “Star Wars,” the Tolkien movies. I’m really quite a refined person, but there’s nothing I like more than cops and robbers and gun fights and crazy driving and fast and furiousness.

When you think in terms of little kids, you don’t want to scare them, and I’m not in favor of showing any kind of violence or aggression, but you can certainly have a big adventure even if you’re 3. I thought it would be fun to take kids on that big adventure.

The thing is to give them something to take away, and one of the things I wanted to give them was the idea that you can play imaginatively — you can be a bandito or a princess or an airplane pilot. 

Janice’s reason for creating Backyardigans is simple:  It was to fill the void she saw in children’s TV programs.  Most of them, she said, “want to teach you how to spell, make sure you can count. My feeling is that, in general, kids should have more time to relax and play and have things that are created especially for them and that are really for their enjoyment. Not that learning isn’t enjoyable, but it’s nice also to have something that’s just for fun.” Read more: http://www.pittsburghpostgazette.com/pg/06281/727734-237.stm#ixzz1FNkIiXO0

Kudos to Janice for wanting to let kids be kids.  Backyardigans helps them to use their minds not in instructive ways but in imaginative ways.  Learning is fun but singing, dancing and imagining themselves on adventures can loads of fun too.

We’ve got the whole wide world in our yard to explore.
We always find things we’ve never seen before.
That’s why every day we’re back for more
With your friends, the Backyardigans.

Community Worker

At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.  But it happened in those days that she became sick and died (Acts 9:36, 37).  We don’t know much about this woman except that she was from a place called Joppa, she was a disciple and she made the tunics and garments for the widows in her community and she died from an illness. 

The widows mourned her death because of her kindness and generosity toward them.  They showed Peter the tunics and garments she had made for them.  No doubt they rejoiced when Peter brought her back to life.

Dorcas is a great example of someone who used her talent to bless others.  She was good at making garments and she dedicated her time doing just that.  In a sense she was serving her community by providing these things for the widows.

What are your talents?  Are you a great cook?  Do you love writing?  What about singing?  One of my co-workers likes to knit.  She has knitted beautiful baby blankets for other co-workers and me.  She makes dresses.  She also loves to cook.  These are gifts that she has used to bless others.  If English is your favorite topic, you should consider tutoring someone who is not good at it.  If reading is your thing, think about visiting a nursing home and reading to the patients.  If you are a person who loves to cook, think about having a bake sale and donating the money to a charity. 

If you like helping people, there are many charities looking for volunteers.  You can enter a mentorship program.  If you like planting, you can help out at a shelter.  If you are great at baby-sitting, why not volunteer to look after the kids at a women’s shelter? You can be a part of the shelter’s Homework Club.  The possibilities are endless.

Think of how you can use your talent or hobby to help others.  Let Dorcus be your inspiration!