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Studies Show That Women Are More Vulnerable To Mental Health Issues And Are More Depressed During This Lockdown Than Men

June 17, 2020 | by Mitali Shah
FI Women More Depressed During Lockdown, Study Says

The first 6 months of 2020 alone have done more damage to our physical and mental well being than the last couple of years put together. The pandemic wave that hit us like a tsunami has forced everyone into isolation, leaving us with no place to go and nothing to do except mull in our misery. We are at the fag end of the lockdown and these last 3-4 months have been the most difficult to get through, at least for me. 

After the tragic demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the whole conversation about mental health has taken centre stage. People are putting up posts urging others to reach out if they are feeling extremely anxious or even depressed. Which is great since its high time we destigmatise mental health and call it what it is- a disease just like malaria or dengue. But every time I see a post like that, I think to myself how many of these people would be there in the moment and actually lend an ear to someone suffering? Sushant’s suicide is proof that not many ears/doors/hearts are open. This lockdown has not only created new problems but it has also amplified already existing ones. Which is why it is doubly essential that we talk about it and keep the conversation going. 

Having said that, the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience published a study that suggested depression is far more prevalent among women than it is among men. No one knows exactly why it is but there are speculations like for instance, due to rigid gender stereotypes men are less likely to go into therapy and are thus are never diagnosed. 

However, a more recent study done by the University of Essex shows that one in three women are suffering from loneliness and other mental health issues during this lockdown. The number of people reporting at least one underlying mental health issue has shot up from 7% to 18% during this coronavirus outbreak. And for women, specifically, these numbers have increased from 11% to 27%. Yup, it’s more than double.  

The study found that more than 34% of women have reported feeling lonely sometimes in lockdown while 11% said they often felt lonely. Whereas, for men, 23% said they were sometimes lonely and just six per cent reported feeling lonely often. 

 The study says, “Early studies produced since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic have found deteriorating mental well-being, particularly apparent for women.” 

You know the fact that this pandemic has led to a surge in mental health issues among women is scary but not surprising. Living under lockdown has resulted in surmounting pressure on women. Between tackling all the domestic chores, ensuring the children are well taken care of and handling professional tasks, the added pressure is maddening. Not to mention the hike in domestic violence cases and the fact that during this lockdown women are more likely to lose their jobs than men. All this plays a huge role in why women are more susceptible to feeling lonely or depressed than men. 

Using the UK household longitudinal study, the researchers of this study conducted online interviews to assess behavioural patterns. The study says, “Using rich data we document a similar finding for the UK. We add to these existing studies by showing that much of the gender gap in well-being can be explained by gender differences in social factors and increased feelings of loneliness. We also show that gender differences in family-related time use and caring responsibilities appear to play a role.” 

Also Read: Heroes Are Always Strong And Full Of Machismo. These Problematic Gender Roles In The Movie Industry Are A Breeding Ground For Mental Health Issues.

This study might have been based in the UK but its findings hold significantly true all around the world. Women are bearing the brunt of this lockdown and it’s hampering their mental health everywhere. Even studies in the USA have found that women are struggling way more than men to cope up with the situation. And it is largely due to the added domestic chores and child care duties that have been thrust upon them. 

All this got me wondering whether India was sailing in the same boat. So, I dug a little further and found multiple studies that showed that Indian women are also facing more mental health issues now than ever before. 

According to the ”Rebooting 2020: A Story of Covid-19, and Shifting Perceptions” survey by The Mavericks India, women are struggling more than men as their workload has increased significantly with them performing multiple responsibilities at once without any assistance from domestic helpers. With women shouldering both the mental and physical responsibilities, it was bound to happen. 

You know, this is very true and I notice this in my house itself. With my dad and me both working and no domestic help, all the domestic burden is falling on my mother. She is being forced into spending all day just cooking and cleaning after us. 

Also Read: Google Says Search Results For ‘Self-Care’ Are At A Record Breaking During This Lockdown. Everyone’s Mental Health Is Affected

Talking about women and mental health, Prakriti Poddar, an expert in mental health and managing trustee of the Poddar Foundation, said, “In the prevailing situation, stress is inevitable and more complicated in the pandemic where everyone is experiencing anxiety.”

She further added, “Those who have jobs and are working from home, are finding it difficult to negotiate the challenges of different spaces and managing different people while at work. Many of them are finding it difficult to manage their family lives where incidents of frequent outbursts are often reported.” 

As I said, it’s not surprising but from now on this approach needs to change. Women alone can’t be held responsible for all domestic chores. It is high time that the men step up and help the women in their houses out and not reluctantly. 

These statistics are truly scary and it’s time we put ourselves first and work on our mental well-being.


Mitali Shah

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