Women more prone to Covid-19 anxiety: Poll

Covid-19 anxiety, Pandemics

Dubai - 83 per cent of women and 36 per cent of men had experienced an increase in 'depressed moods'.

By Saman Haziq

Published: Sun 26 Jul 2020, 7:31 AM

Last updated: Sun 26 Jul 2020, 9:35 AM

Pandemics can be a stressful time for both men and women. However, a recent global survey has shown that women have been more prone to stress, depression and anxiety over the past few months amid Covid-19 pandemic.
A survey by Total Brain stated that 83 per cent of women and 36 per cent of men had experienced an increase in 'depressed moods'. It also stated that 53 per cent of working women and 29 per cent of working men have seen a spike in anxiety since February.
"Despite the fact that men are almost twice as likely to die from Covid-19, women are more affected in terms of their mental health. Worldwide rates of anxiety, neglect, domestic violence, psychological abuse and exploitation have risen during Covid-19," said Dr Asad Sadiq, a Dubai-based consultant psychiatrist.
Pointing to one main reason for this, Dr Sadiq said: "In the clinical setting in the UAE, we have seen high levels of anxiety among working women with children. The challenge of balancing children's online learning with working full-time remotely results in very little time for themselves and leads to isolation."
Dr Reena Thomas, clinical psychologist at Medeor Hospital, Dubai, explained that since women are more articulate about their emotions, they talk about their issues, share them and seek help.
"However, since men are trained to cope with any adversity without dwelling on it, they act practically, don't talk much about it and simply move on."
Dr Thomas also said that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, boundaries of the two categories of women - working women and housewives - were now fused.
"Earlier, working women would usually get their space by going to work and meeting their friends. But because of the pandemic, they lost this freedom and are confined to their home, which means they have to compromise on their 'me time'."
'Global crisis'
Calling the current situation a "global mental health crisis", Dr Padmaraju Varrey, head of specialist psychiatry at NMC Specialty Hospital, Abu Dhabi, cited another study on the impact of the lockdown on men and women.
"Recently released research on the impact of the global lockdown on the mental health of adults show that it has adversely affected women much more than men."
"It is not just the fear of the Covid-19 itself which is causing an increase in the number of cases of general anxiety, depression or panic disorders in women but the domestic pressure that has built up on mothers, owing to working from home, online school from home, taking care of their homes," Varrey pointed out.
Over 200 women seek help for mental health in two weeks
Over 200 requests have so far been received by the mental health support chat line for women, ReacHer, just two weeks after its launch. 
The WhatsApp line, introduced on July 6 by Al Manal Humanitarian Initiative, seeks to help women beat Covid-19-triggered stress and anxiety and connects them to psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists over the phone or video conference. 
Maitha Shuaib, director of corporate communication at Dubai Women Establishment (DWE), said that over 220 requests have been received from women and girls, residing both within the UAE and abroad, during the first two weeks after the campaign's launch. Some 3,400 messages have been exchanged.
"The requests were sent through the ReacHer mental health chat line via WhatsApp on 050 406 82 22, and were all responded to within 24 hours.with most women seeking assistance for depression, anxiety, fear and other debilitating emotions related to the effects of Covid-19 pandemic. Consultations with mental health practitioners took place via phone or video conference calls," Shuaib said.
Mental health practitioners, who contributed to the campaign by volunteering their time and effort, said they were grateful for the opportunity to help provide women with the support they needed. They also commended the campaign's humanitarian scope.
Tips to help you beat the blues

. It is always good to accept reality (the Covid-19 scenario) as well as limitations, and learn to cope with it
. Try to get some 'me time' to engage in activities you enjoy doing, but make sure you are doing them for yourself
. Stay connected - make video calls with family and friends
. Stay hopeful and positive as it will help you move forward. As much as possible, avoid sulking over what is not working out in your life


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