Written By: Nadia Robertson, MD
This month (May) is considered Women’s Health Month, and in honor of the focus on women combined with our current circumstances, I wanted to discuss women and anxiety. In recent years, much has been done to warn people about the vulnerable post-partum period in terms of mental health, but the increased prevalence of anxiety continues throughout a woman’s life. The reasons are highly variable, but one of the factors is certainly the ongoing particular demands placed on women.
In our current anxiety provoking times, it can be easy to minimize our emotions if we haven’t been directly impacted by the devastation of COVID-19. It is important to show ourselves compassion and acknowledge that all of us will have low and anxious days in this COVID-19 crisis. We are all collectively grieving, but what that means on an individual level can vary greatly.
The tendency to dismiss feelings because others have suffered more can lead to feeling unworthy of treatment. If left untreated, symptoms can gradually build to concerning levels. It is important, particularly now, to monitor whether anxiety is impacting your daily functioning in a way that is detrimental to your overall wellness and deserving of treatment.
As a psychiatrist, my role is often to consider and educate patients on when it is appropriate to consider medications for anxiety. I think most people are familiar with therapy to treat anxiety, but the impact of medications is less discussed. Antidepressants known as serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) are the most evidence-based first line treatment used in mental health . They are typically well tolerated and not habit forming. In clinical practice, we enjoy hearing the following from patients, “The stress is obviously still there, but it doesn’t take me to that overwhelming place.” The combination of therapy and medication management often leads to this result.
The team approach at The Ross Center allows care to occur in a coordinated and thoughtful way between therapists and psychiatrists. We feel fortunate to be able to continue this care via video conferencing for both existing and new patients in this trying time. Please don’t wait to seek treatment if you are struggling – we can offer care to relieve your suffering and enable you to cope more effectively.