TOLEDO, Ohio — WTOL 11 is focusing on mental health this week in a series we're calling a State of DIS•ease. In this story, we're focusing on anxiety in women with a mental health forum on Zoom.
Women are twice as likely to experience anxiety disorders, including PTSD, health experts say.
"We are overwhelmed. We are trying to do 20,000 things at once, juggling all of those balls, being a parent, sometimes being a parent and working and being a wife, or being a single parent and working and you've got all these things going on," said clinical psychologist Aimee Drescher, Ph.D.
Women carry what psychiatrist Dr. Victoria Kelly calls a "secret mental load," knowing when the toilet paper is out, when we need to send a birthday card or that homework is due.
"It's kind of a perfect storm right now because society says we can have it all," said Kelly. "We can work full time, we can be awesome moms and all of this. So, COVID-19 kind of kicked our butts in a lot of ways and made us realize we truly aren't Superwoman with superpowers. We're real human beings and we'll struggle. So, you add on the average 25 pounds that people gained in COVID-19, working from home, being hot messes and finally, like, it's acceptable to be a little bit of a hot mess."
Drescher and Kelly agree: Women must ask for help, say "no" or delegate to someone else.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
Saying "no" to energy drains and "yes" to yourself is the first place to start.
"When you get the exercise in, you find a reduction in stress, but sometimes getting the exercise I think causes stress as well. Sometimes we stress about not getting enough exercise, going to a gym or creating the recommended 30 minutes a day. We're taking care of others first," said psychoeducation specialist Juliane Domigan.
But, you can remove some anxiety by knowing you don't have to get two hours of exercise for it to be beneficial.
"I think the most important thing is finding what works for you in your day and sometimes that might be in five-minute increments, because remember, all active minutes count," Domigan said.
Sex can be another stressor for women. You may be in a situation where hormones may be decreasing, and/or you have anxiety, which makes it hard to relax. You may be on anti-depressants, which can cause sexual side effects.
"When I counsel women who may have low libido or low desire issues, they often say, 'I'm just overwhelmed. I feel like I'm pulled in so many directions and I just want someone to recognize what I'm going through and how much I contribute to the household," said Dr. Andy Croak, OB/GYN.
Communication with your partner and doctor are key, as are feeling appreciated by your partner and letting your doctor know your symptoms in case there is a physical barrier.
There are also some apps that can help you unwind. "Calm" and "Head Space" are free to download.
If you need help, you can reach these professionals here:
- Aimee Drescher, PhD, clinical psychologist - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Andy Croak, DO, OB/GYN - The Northwest Ohio Center for Urogynecology and Women's Health - 419-893-7134
- Juliane Domigan, psychoeducation specialist - Mercy Health St. Charles Behavioral Health Institute - email@example.com
- Dr. Victoria Kelly, MD, psychiatrist - UTMC Department of Psychiatry - 419-383-5678