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Why 1 in 3 Aussie Women Will Suffer Anxiety This Year And What You Can Do About It

Why 1 in 3 Aussie Women Will Suffer Anxiety This Year And What You Can Do About It

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For many years, those with mental illnesses have been thought of as crazy, faking it and even silly for not ‘snapping out of it’. This once-taboo subject is finally getting the attention that it deserves. Mental illness is more common than previously thought and people who are suffering from these conditions need help instead of being shunned or blamed.

If you or someone you care about is struggling, you’re not alone. Our goal here is to create mental health awareness and give you information on how to get help.

The Most Common Mental Health Conditions

Mental illness generally occurs between the ages of 18 and 85. Younger children also struggle with mental health problems, usually ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and anxiety.

In Australia, the three most prevalent mental health disorders are anxiety, depression and substance abuse disorders. Women are more prone to both anxiety and depression whereas men are more prone to substance abuse. Men are more likely to commit suicide as well as they are less likely to seek help than women are.

There are many factors that can cause these issues:

  • Chronic stress

  • Trauma

  • Abuse

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Brain health problems

Mental Health Stats

According to the Australian Medical Association:

  • 45% of Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 will experience a mental disorder.

  • Nearly 64,000 people have a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia.

  • Around 14% of children aged 14 to 17 experienced a mental health disorder.

  • The mental healthcare sector is still underfunded with physical healthcare getting priority despite the impact that mental health has on so many lives.

Women and Mental Illness

Check out the gender differences here:

  • Women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than men are.

  • 1 in 4 women will need treatment for depression compared to 1 in 10 men.

  • Postnatal depression affects between 8 and 15% of women.

  • A woman's risk of developing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is 20.4% whereas the risk for men is only 8.1%.

Women, in general, have a lot of pressure placed on them due to working either full time or part time (earning a part-time salary is also often a source of stress), taking care of children and older family members, and running their households. That often equates to a lot of stress and very little ‘me’ time.

Women are also more likely to experience abuse both physically and sexually. Past traumatic experiences often cause PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Women also often fear for their safety more. The constant stress and possible hormonal imbalances all increase the risk of anxiety.

What Can You Do?

First off, if you are struggling to cope, get help. There is no shame in doing this. If you can't afford a private psychologist or psychiatrist, you can get help here:

  • Lifeline: 13 11 14

  • MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78

  • beyondblue.org.au

  • Churches, synagogues, and mosques often have counsellors and/or clergy that you can speak to.

  • Your family GP can provide discounted access to allied health professionals, through the Mental Health Care Plan.

If the above options are unable to provide you with the help you need, they will be able to refer you to the correct people.

More Tips to Improve Mental Health

It can be hard to take care of yourself or a loved one suffering from a mental health disorder. If you are the primary caregiver of children or other elderly or ill family members, taking time out to help yourself can inspire feelings of guilt. But bear in mind that you can't help in the way that they need if you are struggling due to health problems.

With that said:

  • Make time to relax and do something that you enjoy whether it's art, sitting in the garden, or spending time with your friends and family.

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and if you eat meat make sure it's lean, preferably free range and that you include some fish).

  • Exercise - walk, swim, jog, dance, weight train, do some gardening, or do yoga. Pick an activity that you enjoy and aim to do it 3-5 days a week.

As humans, we are complex. We can be physically healthy but if our mind struggles, we are lowering our overall health. Reach out for help. There are people who care and will help you. If you are a counselor or therapist, consider volunteering your services.  

Together we can break the stigma surrounding mental health problems. We can each do our part, whether it's being proactive about our own health or helping those who need help.

 
Author: Cheanné Lombard

Author: Cheanné Lombard

 
 

The Power of Meditation

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The Power of Meditation

For thousands of years, cultures all over the world have used forms of meditation to promote inner wellness and healing. It turns out that our ancestors were on to something! Spiritual leaders, therapists, and scientists can now agree that meditation has real, quantified benefits for a variety of problems. Over the last few decades, research around meditation, the brain, and negative symptoms have shown some incredible effects.

 

MRI scans of active meditators have actually documented how meditation changes the brain. To put it simply, our brains have neurological pathways that physically change with our thought patterns. If you imagine consciousness as a wide open “field” that can be walked in any direction, repetitive thoughts actually wear neurological “paths” that act like shortcuts. If these thoughts are focused on pain/negativity/anxiety/etc, the brain may find itself treading down these shortcuts over and over again, because they are literally the path of least resistance. Meditation essentially helps the brain wear alternative trails in the “field”, making it easier to focus on positivity, calmness, or other objectives. Like exercise, the new pathways get stronger with practice.

 

This research has real-world consequences. In particular, pain doctors looking for alternatives to opiates and other narcotic medication have been exploring the power of meditation for their patients; meditation has now emerged as a legitimate treatment option. Studies have documented how mindfulness meditation in particular can actually reduce physical discomfort by changing neurological pathways. With instruction and practice, this type of meditation can be a useful way to ease pain or discomfort, especially in the case of chronic pain. Mindfulness training can physically help the brain dampen pain signals without the risks associated with heavy-duty pharmaceuticals; it can be used on its own or as a way to reduce reliance on pain medicine.

 

Besides its usefulness for pain, research has also shown that meditation is a proven way to help with:

  • PTSD and phobias

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Decreasing heart rate and blood pressure

 

If you’re looking to harness the incredible possibilities of meditation for your own brain, where should you start? There are literally dozens of types of meditation techniques for all skill levels. Some of the most popular (and accessible) techniques are mindfulness, active meditation, or guided meditation.

Mindfulness sounds deceptively easy: it involves learning to “sit with” and observe thoughts as they come in the moment. Instead of trying to control thoughts, mindfulness focuses on simply accepting things as they are in the present moment. Sometimes essential oils, cold water, or other environmental cues are used to help the practitioner stay focused.

Active meditation is like it sounds: it helps the practitioner focus on physical movement as a way to stay in the present moment. Walking meditation is most common, but other movement like yoga, running, or even gardening can serve the same purpose.

Guided meditation can be done with a teacher or at home with a podcast or app. Because there are prompts to help with focus, guided meditation is a great way for beginners to learn how to calm and quiet their minds.   

 

Whether you’re looking to address a specific concern or just want to increase your happiness, meditation is an incredibly powerful tool to add to your wellness arsenal. The best part is that it’s free and can be practiced anywhere; there’s no better time than now to try it out for yourself.

Author: Natalie Millis

Author: Natalie Millis

 

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