April marks Stress Awareness Month, with healthcare professionals across the world joining forces to increase public awareness about the growing stress epidemic.
The situation is increasing stress, fear and anxiety, with many still battling with how to cope. April marks Stress Awareness Month, with healthcare professionals across the world joining forces to increase public awareness about, not only the causes, but also the treatments for the growing stress epidemic.
Operational director at the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) Cassey Chambers said more than 60% of the calls the group had received were from women, calling for themselves or concerned about a partner, spouse, child or friend.
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Specialist psychiatrist at Sandton Mediclinic Dr Rykie Liebenberg said one of the main reasons women are more prone to stress and anxiety than men is their oestrogen levels.
“During the childbearing years, when oestrogen is high and cycling, the incidence of depression is two to three times as high in women as men,” she said.
“The highest risk periods are post-partum and perimenopausal. This perimenopausal period can last five to seven years.”
Clinical psychologist and lecturer at the University of the Western Cape Erica Munnik said research had shown that women were more willing to acknowledge their distress and to seek support.
“Men are usually more hesitant to admit and talk about their distress
“This is closely linked to gender stereotypes – a significant amount of women are still performing more of the traditional roles, for instance acting as the primary caregiver, as well as assuming more prominent roles to secure financial stability.
“Contextual factors such as culture and the support or lack of support from the community, can also have a significant impact on the levels of distress experienced by men and women.”
Stress was usually seen as an autonomous physical, cognitive and psychological reaction to a challenging situation or event. The event was usually experienced as demanding or as a possible threat.
Research had shown that more people were prone to stress due to the pandemic.
“The prolonged nature of the pandemic touched us all on a personal level and impacted on our physical and mental health as individuals, families, communities and as a society. Statistics show a marked increase in depression, trauma and anxiety,” Munnik said.
“Distress seems to be more chronic and ongoing awareness of the psychological effects on our mental health is essential.
“The impact of contextual challenges such as loss of income, poverty and reduced access to education amongst other factors are still ongoing.
“The close link between physical symptoms and mental health needs to remain a focus for ongoing research and intervention initiatives.”
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