An eminent Clinical Hypnotherapist, Counsellor and Family Physician in Mumbai, Dr Rahul Dutta, demystifies the way stress and mental health is managed and treated in women. Acknowledged with several prestigious awards for his contribution in his field of expertise, the celebrated doctor is bringing about a paradigm shift in the lives of the other half of the population.
The status of women and their role in society has evolved significantly in the last few decades. According to you how has this impacted the mental health of women?
It is heartening to see that women are making a mark as professionals in almost every walk of life, but at the same time all of a sudden there is a lot of multi-tasking that has added on. Even today, in our male dominated society, a woman’s role is predominantly considered to be that of a homemaker. Many women too are resigned to taking on all responsibilities in their stride and end up sacrificing a lot. But those with a dual role of a homemaker as well as a professional are trapped in a very hectic routine. They don’t even realise when their mental health is impacted, which slowly starts affecting them in a more profound manner.
What is that women are losing out on, and do social taboos prevent them from seeking help of a psychiatrist?
Women are caught in a monotonous routine with no “Me Time” to unwind, relax or do things what gives them joy. The physical and mental fatigue then gradually manifest into mental issues. In my practice, I come across many cases related to anxiety, insomnia, depression, burn-out syndrome etc. The evolving status of women also has its pros and cons because they have to deal with a different set of workplace challenges along with the workload at home, which remains the same. This definitely impacts mental health, which soon hits the body, and before they realise the gravity of the situation they are in deep trouble. The word mental health is still a social taboo and that is why mostly the daily based anxieties are completely ignored to a point of no return. The only recourse left is to seek the help of an expert to bring some semblance in one’s life, which takes a long time to resolve. More awareness is emphatically need be it counselling, hypnotherapy or meeting a psychiatrist, which doesn’t mean that the person has gone mad.
Are there correlations between women’s health concerns and stress?
Yes, we get to see so many hormone-related issues as a result of stress. Even before women realise, the stress will hit the body, triggering so many psychosomatic incidences and hormonal changes which are so common, which is stress related. Thyroid issues, menstrual issues, swelling in the body, water retention, bloating, unexplained leg pains and aches, anxiety, poor attention span, low performance and burn out, all of which go undiagnosed because of ignorance, social compulsions, and shame in accepting that one is a victim of stress and needs help.
What is the duration for stress to manifest into a full-blown mental issue?
We follow a principle that everything starts from a certain thought and there is a connection of the thought, the mind, the energy level and the physical body. So, for the physical body to be unwell the energy level must have been affected atleast three months before that. And for the energy level or aura to get affected the thought and emotional level must be affected 3-6 months ago. I would say anywhere from 6 to 12 months stress would definitely take a toll on the body.
How can women take better care of their health and would taking supplements help in any way?
There is no substitute to fresh, nutritious and hygienically prepared home cooked food. Everybody’s health, body systems and vitals are different, so no uniform parameter can be adopted for taking supplements. They probably have a larger role post 40 years of age. One can take multi vitamins, protein supplements, even before 40 years by people with specific deficiencies or those doing exceptionally strenuous work such as sports.
I would always recommend that people should take only those supplements that are prescribed by a doctor rather than purchase them over the counter, which does not guarantee what you get. Dosage is again best judged and advised by a family doctor who will evaluate you after conducting tests. Revital for woman for example, is a safe bet as it is packed with essential vitamins and minerals necessary to boost a woman’s energy levels. Discontinuing supplements and restarting them after a gap depends on clinical co-relation on parameters of age and health.