Staying healthy, staying woke and balancing your job with your side hustle can be stressful. According to CNBC many women’s top priorities are living on their own, establishing a career and financial security. However, it’s imperative for women to also prioritize their mental health, especially important since depression and anxiety are more common in women, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
According to Office on Women’s Health, “good mental health means you’re able to cope with daily stresses and accomplish personal goals.” One common way we as women try to cope with stress, is by getting over-the-counter prescription drugs to keep us functioning during the day. However, these over-the-counter drugs are can be the very things that further negate our mental health.
While we innocently purchase over-the-counter prescription drugs for headaches, gastrointestinal issues, respiratory problems and stress, a recent study showed that some prescription drugs can cause depression.
According to the New York Times, “over one-third of Americans take at least one prescription drug that lists depression as a potential side effect.” Depression can especially affect women who use birth control and emergency contraceptives. OBGYNs Anne Davis and Carolyn Westhoff states that “many women who take birth control pills will indeed experience depression because each of these is a common occurrence.”
If untreated, unaddressed or undiagnosed, depression can lead to suicide. According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen across age, gender, race, and ethnicity. In more than half of all deaths in 27 states, the people had no known mental health condition when they ended their lives.
Nadine Kaslow, a past president of the American Psychological Association, is particularly concerned about what has emerged with suicide among women, according to the Washington Post.
The report’s findings came just two days after 55-year-old fashion designer Kate Spade took her own life in New York — action her husband attributed to the severe depression she had been battling. Kaslow stated, “Historically, men had higher death rates than women. That’s equalizing not because men are [committing suicide] less but women are doing it more. That is very, very troublesome.”
According to the Office on Women’s Health, “many things, such as trauma, stress, and sleep problems, can affect your mental health. You may not be able to prevent a mental health condition, but you can take steps to protect and support your mental health throughout your life.”
If you are interested in making your mental health a priority, a great way to start is to schedule an appointment with a therapist. You can contact your insurance company to see qualified professionals in your area.
If you don’t have insurance, check out Talk Space, an online therapy platform where you can facetime or talk on the phone with your designated therapist or counselor. Additional therapy resources are Therapy for Black Girls, clinics affiliated with hospitals and university psych centers that charge based on a sliding scale and the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network.
If you’re skeptical about therapy, it’s essential for you to take care of your mental health in a constructive way that works for you. This can include getting a massage weekly, exercising, making sure you get efficient amount of sleep, eating right, taking time to meditate, getting your hair done, getting your nails done (or painting your own nails), taking a break from technology a few hours a day, journaling and taking a mental health day from work. If you’re feeling resistant to set aside time for your mental health, it may be easier for you to think about it as mandatory acts of self-care. You can also review the Office on Women’s Health for additional suggestions.
Whether you’re freelancing or working a traditional 9 to 5, it’s essential for us as women to prioritize our mental health. While grinding and hustling to make our dreams happen are great, we can’t afford to ignore our mental health needs. So, do your due diligence in researching the medicines you’re putting in your body, schedule an appointment to see a licensed professional if you feel overwhelmed and set aside time for mandatory self-care to stay in good spirits. Your livelihood depends on it.