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It’s Mental Health Awareness Month! Here Are 5 Illnesses That Commonly Affect Women

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Did you know? – The month of May is dedicated to creating awareness for mental health.  Gone are the days when people shied away from discussing such matters.

Mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behaviour, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines.

Although, mental disorders affect both men and women Some disorders are more common in women. This is as a result of biological influences, their society and personal behaviours.

Here are 5 mental illnesses that are prevalent in women.

1. Postpartum Depression

This is a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth, which can affect both sexes. Symptoms may include extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability, and changes in sleeping or eating patterns.

Onset is typically between one week and one month following childbirth PPD can also negatively affect the newborn child.

Postpartum depression may occur in women who have a history of depression, anxiety or trauma. If you have a history of mental illness, it’s crucial to tell your doctor if you and your partner are trying to get pregnant.

2. Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with your life normally.
 These illnesses may include panic disorder, specific phobias,  social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

From puberty through age 50, women are more than twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder with its symptoms of increased worrying, tension, exhaustion, and fear.

3. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels.

While the disorder afflicts men and women in equal numbers, hormones can make the experience a bit different for young women. Females are likely to have more symptoms of depression than mania, and our hormones and reproductive factors can also influence the condition and its treatment.

4. Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event. It usually occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, serious accident, sudden death of a loved one or violent personal assault such as rape, or other life-threatening events.

Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Most people who experience such events recover from them, but people with PTSD continue to be severely depressed and anxious for months or even years following the event. Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD following a traumatic event.

5. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that isn’t discussed often. It may be scary to think about, but this disorder can manifest during a woman’s 20s and 30s.

Symptoms include bizarre behaviour, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and thoughts of persecution.  Paranoid delusions consist of thoughts like, “my spouse is cheating on me,” when he isn’t. Persecutory delusions consist of thoughts like, “I’m being mistreated,” when there is no actual mistreatment. Not every woman with schizophrenia will exhibit these features, but these trends have been noted in some large-scale studies.