PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Mental health during the pandemic has been a struggle for some people, but especially women.
“They tend to take on more of the burden and the mental burden of organizing, like, everyone’s life,” says Rebecca Weinberg, PsyD with AHN Women’s Behavioral Health. “Women feel like they have to choose between their financial security and potentially their physical health, and the health of their family.”
In a study by CARE, a nonprofit advocacy group, women are almost three times as likely to have been affected by mental health issues over the last six months: 27% of women, versus 10% of men, report anxiety, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and trouble completing everyday tasks.
Dr. Weinberg’s patients bring up these issues.
“A lot about anxiety, getting the virus, or exposing older family members and being frustrated and lonely. Women are certainly talking about financial impact of COVID, if they or their partners have been laid off. Having kids in virtual school is a huge stress. Or do you make the decision to send your child to school if it’s an option, and what type of risk are you accepting?” says Dr. Weinberg.
“I think there’s a lot of decision fatigue. We’re making decisions constantly, and it’s exhausting. And you never know if you’re making the right choice. And as soon as you make it, there’s new information, and you have to make another choice.”
The international survey of more than 10,000 people included questions about emotional state and possible reasons. Much of the stress was economic.
“It’s like alternating between being grateful that you have employment, and you know, realizing you’re in a high-risk field. Working in warehouse stockrooms, working in a bank, teachers have been really overwhelmed,” Dr. Weinberg says. “It can impact women’s careers.”
She advises her patients to have a daily routine, get dressed, go for a walk, take steps to socialize safely and get away from the internet.
“Social comparison is never beneficial. Moms will talk about it, like, mom-shaming,” Dr. Weinberg points out. “Where is this coming from? Is it beneficial to be comparing yourself, or does it matter if they made a different decision for their family? And we encourage women to like, limit social media, if it’s not helpful.”
Also she recommends social support to reduce isolation, even if it’s only virtual.