Women’s Experience with the Silent Killer: Stress – Why is our Mental Health Dwindling?

Khandyce Pitner

Aug 24, 2021

“When are you getting married? Hmmm, something must be wrong with her to not have a relationship. When are you having children? I want some grandchildren. You’re too independent, you’ll never find a relationship being like that. Can you cook? You can’t be a CEO, you’re too emotional. You can’t do both…Choose career or having a family.”

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A snippet of the oftentimes detrimental phrases experienced by women. Along with significantly increased chances of being physically assaulted, or more severe, these statements are said – and with natural confidence. Why? Because this is how societal norms have programmed us to think – Yes, even women make these comments to other women.  


Similar to my previous post on Minority Mental Health Awareness: Through my extensive cultural-competency training, personal experience, and internal knowledge, I have heard statements alike in my personal and professional life. These comments have a multitude of meanings for everyone, including, but not limited to:

  • Some women do not mind these statements and will answer with ease

  • Some women do not desire these normative practices and desire things such a community family living; raising a child on their own; remaining single; becoming a CEO, founding a business; etc.

  • Some women struggle to reproduce 

  • Some women enjoy living within their own timelines *which we will discuss further down*


Facts about the silent killer in women:
  • In recent years, studies have shown women are affected by Major Depressive Disorder twice as much as men

  • Increased likelihood for Anxiety Disorders – PTSD; Panic Disorder; OCD

  • Stress and weight-gain linkage is greater for women

  • Menstrual cycle inconsistencies 

  • Increased risk prior to, during, and after pregnancy

  • Decreased libido

  • Higher blood pressure 

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Severe discrimination at work

  • Gender-based pay discrimination has been illegal since 1963 but is still a frequent, widespread practice—particularly for women of color. On average, women earn $10,000 less than men per year. That is with being in the same field, similar academic and professional experiences.

 

There are a multitude of reasons for increased stress and adverse reactions to stress within women. Though this differs case-by-case, the typical experiences and expectations placed upon women range from being nurturers in the home, while managing a career outside of the home; experiencing detrimental and hindering discrimination; plagued with appearing ‘soft’, even in moments of adversity; and overall having to juggle multiple hats, multiple roles, multiple environments. 

Does this mean women should cease their journey towards self-fulfillment, regardless of what that looks like? Absolutely not. 

What this does mean is that as beautiful as the woman is, the woman is simultaneously strong, determined, dedicated, intelligent, educated, mature, and capable of being a great parent, partner, individual, and professional! We must utilize our strengths to recognize when our stress levels are overwhelmingly high and our mental health is declining. 


Tips for Women to Remain Mentally Healthy: 
  • Align yourself with fulfilling relationships

  • Place yourself in nurturing environments

  • Find your purpose and passion and delve into that 

  • Ask for help from your support system inside and outside of the home 

  • Check-ins with a licensed mental health professional 

  • Check-ins with your medical health professional

  • Check-ins with your family (Relaying information about your needs and wants)

  • Speak up about your experience with discrimination

  • Aligning yourself within YOUR timeframe that feels comfortable to you

  • LOVE YOURSELF 

 

Tips to Support a Woman’s Mental Health
  • Provide a safe space 

  • Provide a listening ear

  • Validate their experiences

  • Seek ways to assist 

  • Speak up about discrimination 

  • Treat women as equals

  • Communicate freely, honestly, respectfully

  • Inquire about their timelines for their lives an what created those desires

 

As a human being, you are entitled to having the things you desire and work for. You are deserving of finding healthy balance in your daily lives, as you maneuver what womanhood means to you. As we spend an immense amount of time pouring out of ourselves into others, ensure that you are pouring from the overflow within yourself! You are bold. You are deserving. You are necessary. 


If you remember nothing else from this article, please remember this… “Not everyone has a mental illness, but everyone has mental health.” – Khandyce Pitner, M.Ed, LPC

 

Womenshealth.gov. (2019, March 14). Office of Women’s Health: Stress and Your Health. Office on Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/good-mental-health/stress-and-your-health. 


Bleiweis, R. (2020, March 24). Quick Facts About the Gender Wage Gap. Center for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2020/03/24/482141/quick-facts-gender-wage-gap/. 

 

Written by:

Khandyce Pitner

M.Ed, LPC

Aug 24, 2021

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