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Prevalence of Depression Among Women in Australia

Question:

Discuss about the Depression among Women in Australia for Health.
 

Depression affects women because they are known to put others first. However, for the purpose of mental health it is important for them to prioritize their needs. Furthermore, women should learn how to speak up especially when seeking support. Women are more affected by mental health problems than men. However, good mental health is appropriate for the overall health of a person (Fisher, 2017). The paper provides evidence on the levels of depression among women in Australia and examines how the patterns are socially determined. Furthermore, it proposes a health promotion intervention to address depression and promote positive mental health for women.

According to the Ministry of Health (2017), one in every five women experiences depression in Australia. Furthermore, one in every three women experiences anxiety in her lifetime. In addition to that, research has showed that women experience eating disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) more than the males.  

Anxiety and depression affect women at any stage of life. However, the prevalence of such conditions increases during pregnancy and one year after the birth of the baby. Studies show that one in every ten women is depressed while pregnant while one in seven women has depression in the first year after birth. Conditions of anxiety are more prone to women who have both conditions concurrently (Mary, 2013).

According to the Ministry of Health in Australia (2017), 3 million people live with depression in Australia. Furthermore, it is reported that one out of five women experience depression in her lifetime. In addition to that, women with mental health problems have a chronic physical illness that puts them at a higher chance of experiencing depression

A longitudinal study conducted in Australia revealed that incidences of depression were higher in older women.7 % of women had depression in the past three years before 2014. Furthermore, the problem of depression is diverse and large when compared with the experiences diagnosed. According to the symptoms of depression, 10% “felt hopeless.” 15% “lost interest in things.” (Julie, Robinson, Gibson, Parkinson & Loxton, 2014).

A large percentage of women do not receive proper medication for depression. The study reported that 25% of the women did not use any form of medication during the period of the study. In any particular year, approximately 30% of women are treated with the drug of choice for older people - the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. 20% of women experiencing depression are treated with Tri cyclic antidepressants, which are rarely used among older women without caution. 20% of women were also treated with anxiolytic drugs, which are potentially inappropriate in older people. 25 percentage of the women, were treated with hypnotic drugs, which are potentially inappropriate for older people (Julie, Robinson, Gibson, Parkinson & Loxton, 2014).

Social determinants of depression patterns among women in Australia.

The prevalence of depression in women is illustrated in terms of gender differences their male counterparts, the differences are biologically based. The World Health Organization reports that biological explanations of depression in women are entirely simplistic. However, the WHO illustrates that depression in women can be linked to exposure to the social determinants of health, an exposure that differs with the men (Women’s Health Victoria, 2012).

Social Determinants of Depression Patterns Among Women in Australia

Women who are exposed to stressors have a higher rate of depression than men do. Stressors in women include events in the life of a woman that are negative such as sexual abuse or violence, gender discrimination, limited access to education and opportunities in occupation. Therefore, these lead to few options for women especially when confronted with social or economic activities, thus more depression for the woman. Gender divisions of labour at home and within the community, gender based expectations about responsibilities, roles, and power relations contribute to a higher risk of depression in women (Women’s Health Victoria, 2012).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports a higher prevalence of psychological stress; mental problems such as depression in women living in the socio economically challenged areas. Socio economic status such as part time employments, casual employments, low rates of pay, and unemployment increases depression. The World Health Organization reports that incidences of depression are higher in people who happen to be economically vulnerable, living in poverty. This population is made up of women and children (Australian Government Department of Health, 2009).

Women are more prone to violence; increased incidences of violence lead to high depression levels in women. Much violence that happens in women lives, results from their male counterparts. Depression due to adolescence in young girls is caused by sexual violence. Furthermore, depression in adult women is associated with sexual abuse in childhood. One to three women experience depression due to rape. Furthermore, this leads to drug abuse and incidences of attempted suicide ( Silva, Luoureiro & Graca, 2016).

This is one of the least diagnosed complication and most common complication in new mothers. Postnatal depression affects close to fifteen percent of new mothers. Furthermore, it is related to the physical activity of childbearing. The depressive disorder that follows childbirth is predominantly psychosocial and it involves lack of personal support, childhood experiences of abuse, marital conflict, and history of depression. Furthermore, research has illustrated that women are at a greater risk of postnatal depression due to the cultural preference placed on boys than girls because when she gives birth to a girl it increases the risk of postnatal depression (Silva, Luoureiro & Graca, 2016).

Mental stress and mental health can deteriorate because of discrimination against a particular group of women. Aboriginal women continue to experience disadvantage and discrimination due to cultural history of loss and trauma. Therefore, they are exposed to higher incidences of domestic violence and sexual abuse (Women’s Health Victoria, 2012).

 According to the National Cancer Institute, social support is a network of friends, neighbors, and family that give physical, financial, and psychological support in times of need. Social support is an important intervention in tackling depression in women. For instance, sexually abused women need a combination of self-esteem and appraisal support to feel valued by other people. Appraisal support reminds women that they can get emotional support especially when they face difficult situations in their lifetimes (Pathak, 2017).

Good social support systems facilitate good physical and mental health. Furthermore, they reduce incidences of risky behaviors. According to Michael (2018), social support systems reduce depression in patients with chronic illnesses. Moreover, good social support systems also reduce the risk of developing PTSD in women (Fisher, 2017).

Postnatal Depression among Women

Community networks empower women and develop a sense of ownership in them. Furthermore, they promote social responsibility in women. Community network initiatives implement systems that prevent violence and aggression towards women. The initiatives allow communities to use data on violence and aggression against women to identify risks and develop actions against the risks. Furthermore, they have improved youth outcomes such as decrease in drug abuse and reduced assault charges against women (Fisher, 2017).

The socio-ecological model affects the growth and development of an individual. According to this model, health outcomes result from the interactions of ecological system levels such as the micro level, mezzo level and the exo level (Kalra et al., 2011).

The micro level is the central level of the socio ecological system that encloses an individual. A person interacts with people such as parents, siblings, friends and significant others and objects at an immediate and intimate world. A supportive and positive functional relationship within members at the micro level leads to healthy social functioning and decreases symptoms of depression. The natural process of social cohesion is a remedy for depression that occurs without intervention from outside (Kalra et al., 2011).

Women who experience depression need appropriate psychosocial support by family members in the micro system. Counselors who belong to an implementing organization (mezzo level) approach the members of the family and educate them on depression. They also educate the family on the importance of supportive and healthy communication between the individual who is depressed and the family (Kalra et al., 2011).

The mezzo level includes systems that serve microsystems such as families and peer organizations. Communication between various micro systems controls depression. The mezzo system includes formal and informal bodies, religious institutions, clubs, schools, offices, and informal support groups. They are targeted with educational programs that create awareness of depression. Activities aimed at disseminating information provide women with the appropriate emotional, cognitive, and social competence (Kalra et al., 2011).

Elements in the mezzo socio ecological level create an ecology that is supportive to women. The support is in terms of access to care when the individual is depressed, Furthermore, elements in this level prevent episodes of depression when it is appropriate. This includes engaging the depressed person in various activities, providing support, and resources to the family and enables them to access medical and financial help (Kalra et al., 2011).

The exo-level includes organizations and social structures that do not contain an individual. However, the level affects the immediate and the micro-system of an individual. Furthermore, the exo-system directly influences the mood and affect of a person. The exo level mainly deals with the existing schemes, police, regulations, and provisions. Members of the micro and mezzo systems identify the depressed person and help her access benefits from programs that exist (Kalra et al., 2011).

Conclusion

Depression affects the mental health of women. Studies have shown that there is a higher prevalence of depression in women than men in Australia. This is due to various factors such as gender differences between men and women, socioeconomic status of women, abuse and violence, postnatal depression and the indigenous status of some women in Australia. However, there are health prevention interventions that have been established to address the problem of depression in women. The socio-ecological model can evaluate the interventions and they involve establishment of social support and community networks. Furthermore, depression is handled at the micro level, mezzo, and the eco level. Depression is a slow killer that affects mental health especially in women. However, it should be managed to avoid outrageous effects in mental health.

Australian Government Department of Health. (2009). Social Determinants of Health. Retrieved from, https://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mhipExecSum-09-09-ch2.

Fisher, J. (2017). Women and mental health. Australian Psychological Society, 39(5), 34-47.

Gibson, R., Parkinson, L. & Loxton, D. (2014). Depression among women in the Australian longitudinal study on women’s health. Retrieved from, https://www.newcastle.edu.au>pdf_file

Kalra, G., Christodoulou, G., Jenkins, R., Tsipas, V., Toveski, L., Mezzich, J. & Bhugra, D. (2011). Mental Health Promotion: Guidance and strategies. European Psychiatry, 27 (12), 81-86. doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2011.10.001

Mary, D. (2013). Women and Mental Health. Retrieved from, https://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/mental.htm

Michael, L. (2018). Mental illness a leading cause of Disability for Australian Women. Retrieved from, https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2018/03/mental-illness-leading-cause-disability-australian-women/

Pathak, N. (2017). Can you prevent Depression? Retrieved from, https://www.webmd.com/depression/understanding-depression-prevention

Silva, M., Luoureiro, A. & Graca, C. (2016). Social Determinants of Mental Health: A review of the evidence. European Journal of Psychiatry, 30 (4), 23-45.

The Ministry of Health. (2017). National Depression Initiative. Retrieved from, https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/mental-health-and-addictions/national-depression-initiative.

Women’s Health Victoria. (2012). Women and Depression. Retrieved from, https://www.org.au/publications-resources/gender-impact-assessments

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