Dr. Betty Jo “BJ” Fancher knows that women often feel the pressure to “hold it all together” and not admit they have mental difficulties. When she noticed her college-aged daughter, Ansley, was struggling to balance her depression, anxiety, and treatment for ADHD, she encouraged Ansley to keep fighting for relief, becoming his own mental health advocate.
Two-thirds of women with depression and anxiety say they reach a breaking point, but many wait a year or more for treatment, if they ever do. This breaking point can include a negative impact or significant strain on everything from social life or caring for loved ones at home to professional work.
Four in ten women who have not been diagnosed with depression or anxiety also say they have reached or are reaching this point.
New survey with new results
A new national survey, the GeneSight Mental Health Monitor, found that when they feel overwhelmed, women say they “just need a break.” Almost a third think they just need to try harder.
“One of the biggest challenges for women in general is the extra demands placed on them,” said mental health clinician BJ Fancher. “When you are the caregiver for your children, your spouse and maybe even your parents, you are working and, in the end, you simply do not have enough time to meet your needs. . You’re exhausted and you think that’s the norm. But, when you can’t get rid of it anymore, when you feel stuck, that’s when you know you need help.
The survey found that more than half of women diagnosed with anxiety or depression either waited at least a year before seeking treatment or never did. Experts point out that these conditions get worse over time and can have a huge impact on daily life if left untreated. It is essential to seek treatment from a health care provider as soon as you recognize the symptoms.
“Receiving treatment for mental health is essential because we know that mental health problems are highly comorbid with other physical illnesses, such as cancer, stroke and heart disease,” said Dr. Rachael Earls, Senior Medical Science Liaison for Myriad Genetics. . “And if those underlying mental health issues aren’t addressed properly, it can also have effects on your overall physical health. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, the first thing you should do right away is seek help to begin to resolve the issue.
Become your own mental health advocate
Having someone you trust and support can be essential in helping women seek the mental health treatment they need. Dr. Fancher was that person for his daughter, Ansley, who struggled with anxiety in high school before seeking help. She was able to recommend a clinician that Ansley was happy with. Most women surveyed with a diagnosis of depression or anxiety say they have been ignored or rejected by family, friends or partners about their mental health issues.
Ansley’s experience finding the right mental health professional led her to study to become a psychologist herself, while helping to change the way women view their mental health.
“In a way, I act like an advisor to my friends,” she said. “I never try to force them to talk about things, but I’m more than open about my own experiences with mental health issues. I try to help them solve their own problems and tell them that it’s okay to ask for help.
Six in ten women diagnosed with depression or anxiety agree that taking a prescription medication was the most helpful step in dealing with their symptoms. More so than any other action or treatment option, including therapy. Ansley is one such success story. Her clinician helped her find a prescription regimen that worked for her. Part of its success is due to the GeneSight test. It is a test that analyzes how a patient’s genes may affect their results with certain psychiatric drugs.
“She gave me the results and kind of explained what they meant,” Ansley said. “And based on those results, we changed my anxiety medication. That way my body could process this medication better.
Simple test – great importance
For clinicians like Dr. Fancher, the GeneSight test is an important objective test, similar to checking blood levels or taking blood pressure.
“It’s a simple process that can be administered quickly at home or in the office,” Dr. Fancher said. “I always come back to GeneSight because it’s so easy to read and it’s fast, concise, reliable and validated information,” she said. “GeneSight has a great support program and provides us with another tool that can help patients ease the stress of coming back more often and being disappointed that they don’t get better. This is another tool that can show the patient that you care about them and are trying to provide them with the best treatment. It’s a tool that can help you get there faster.
Ansley stresses the importance of asking for help. You need to become your own mental health advocate.
“Even if someone says, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it, I don’t think you need it’, if you’re already seriously thinking about it, I think you should just go out there and do it because ‘There’s no downside to seeking help,” she says. “You can only benefit from it.”
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