What you need to know today...
Listening time: 2 mins
Listening time: 2 mins
Jean Hailes specialist women’s health GP Dr Amanda Newman says the following may be signs that you need some extra support:
Even if these signs don’t apply to you, it’s time to seek help if you feel you’d benefit from additional support. Your doctor can talk over some options to assist.
You might not feel like you normally do, and you don’t know how to change things for the better. You might find that your mental health is having a negative impact on areas of your daily life and you’re struggling to cope. Despite your efforts to change or improve things, you may find nothing is working and you're feeling worse as time goes on.
Jean Hailes psychologist Gillian Needleman says if you are thinking of hurting yourself, then it’s time to get immediate help.
Pregnancy and early parenthood – No one can possibly tell you what it might feel like for you to be pregnant, to give birth to a baby or to become a new parent. These are deeply personal experiences and are different for everyone. It is a time of great change and challenge, often bringing feelings of joy and celebration, as well as feelings of worry and anxiety. For helpful resources to support your mental and emotional wellbeing during this time, visit the online hub, Mumspace.
At midlife – Around menopause, many things are changing – not just your hormones. However, your shifting hormones may have a lot to do with your swinging emotions, which can range from joy to anger to irritability to sadness. For some women, emotional health around menopause may also be influenced by previous experiences, such as past bouts of depression, or even past abuse. Read more about factors that can influence your mental health at menopause.
Chronic illness – Complex health conditions have many layers. Often the focus is on the diagnosis and treatment of a person's physical symptoms, but many complex conditions can also have an impact on a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Read more about how to cope with a complex condition.
Major events – Significant life changes such as the death of a loved one or friend, a relationship ending, financial struggles, or traumatic events can all have emotional impacts for which additional support may help. Read more.
If you’re diagnosed with a mental health problem, such as depression or an anxiety disorder, your doctor may provide you with a mental healthcare plan. This will entitle you to Medicare rebates for up to 10 sessions a year with a psychologist, social worker or occupational therapist.
A Medicare rebate is when the Australian Government covers part of the cost of the health service – so the ‘out-of-pocket expenses’ are reduced and it’s much less expensive for you.
Talk to your doctor to see if a mental healthcare plan is right for you or your loved one.
Staying mentally well for women 65+ is important for their overall health. This fact sheet provides tips on how women can stay mentally well as they get older, as well as where to get help and support.
Many factors can affect your mental and emotional health. This fact sheet outlines what you can do to support your mental health, and what to do if you need help right now.
Tori, 43, Sydney
Anxiety affects Tori as a result of living with chronic pelvic pain. Strategies such as activity pacing and seeing a pain specialist counsellor help to keep her anxiety in check. “You have sovereignty over your body and thoughts, and that’s the interface where you gain control over your whole life.”
Debbie, 63, Rosebud
Anxiety has been part of Debbie’s life since she was a child. “I never knew how to deal with it then.” Since first speaking to a doctor about it in her 30s, she now actively manages her anxiety with medication, funny films, singing and dancing, good friends, getting out among nature and her cuddly cat Timmy.
Alanah, 23, Canberra
It wasn’t until her late teens that Alanah realised that the tightness she felt across her chest every time she felt a little nervous “wasn’t completely normal”. An eventual chat to her GP put her on the path to managing her anxiety.
It’s a chance to reach out to someone you know or care about who might be struggling.
Perhaps they seem out of sorts … more agitated or withdrawn? Or they are just not themselves? Trust your gut instinct and act on it.
Here are the simple steps:
Remember, you don't need to be an expert to reach out – just a good friend and a great listener.
In 2020, staying connected is more important than ever. Even if someone appears fine, asking R U OK? can be a lovely touch of human kindness that comes at just the right time.
Get more tips on how to have the conversation and discover great mental health resources.
It could be missing out on a job, losing a pet, experiencing a miscarriage. Grief is an emotion we feel when we experience loss.
This year, COVID-19 exposed us to a new kind of grief many of us had not experienced before: of the loss of simple life pleasures. Going to concerts, dining out, swimming in pools, visiting family, hugging friends, taking holidays – for many, such activities became longed-for remnants of a pre-pandemic world.
However, the pandemic also affected our ability to grieve, as we usually would, the major losses that came during it – and sometimes because of it – such as funerals for loved ones.
Women's Health Week ambassador Shelley Ware catches up with psychologist Caroline Anderson to share with us some tips for letting go and coping with change.
A study from 2019 found that people who sleep less than six hours a night may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared with those who sleep between seven and eight hours.
According to the research, less than six hours of slumber increases the risk of unhealthy plaque, or fatty deposits, building up in the arteries – a condition called atherosclerosis.
Previous studies have shown that lack of sleep also increases risk factors for other serious health issues, with links to high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
How many hours of sleep a person needs varies from person to person, but most healthy adults should aim for between 7-9 hours a night to function at their best.
Body temperature is involved in the sleep/wake cycle. At night, your core temperature dips naturally, helping to prepare your body and brain for sleep.
A warm bath or shower helps this process along, not by warming you up, as you would expect – but by cooling down your core temperature.
The warm water increases blood supply your hands and feet, taking body heat from deep inside and reducing your core temperature.
A review of the research found the optimal timing of bathing for cooling down your core body temperature to improve sleep quality is about 90 minutes before going to bed.
If you have the choice between a book and eBook, research shows it’s better to stick with the printed form for the sake of your sleep.
A 2014 study revealed that after reading an eBook versus a real book, participants took longer to fall asleep and had reduced levels of feeling sleepy in the evening. Their levels of melatonin (the sleep hormone) were also decreased, and their alertness the next morning was also reduced.
It’s well known that the blue light emitted by iPads, eReaders and phones can suppress melatonin (the sleepy hormone). Warm-toned ‘night mode’ settings on devices claim to negate any ill effects.
However, other studies (only done on animals so far) suggest it doesn’t only boil down to the big blue; yellow light, brightness, and how long you’re exposed to the light are also likely to be important factors to consider.
An American review of dozens of separate studies has confirmed that during times of hormonal change – such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause – women are at increased risk of poor sleep and sleep deprivation, as well as sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome and insomnia.
Snoring or snorting mid-snooze is one potential sign of the condition known as sleep apnoea.
In sleep apnoea, your airway narrows or gets temporarily blocked by the surrounding muscles. This makes breathing difficult, waking you up momentarily mid-sleep.
These episodes might happen hundreds of times a night, but because you’re asleep while it’s all going on, you may not remember in the morning.
If you have a sleeping partner, they might tell you that you snore loudly, snort, have pauses in breathing or suddenly gasp for air.
However, not all snorers have sleep apnoea and not all people with sleep apnoea snore. It is important to be aware of the condition though, as it can increase your risk of heart disease and dementia.
Read our recent article: Is it tiredness or is it sleep apnoea?
While it may initially help you to feel drowsy and fall asleep, alcohol is a common cause of disrupted sleep, particularly in the second half of the night.
Research has shown that drinking before bed disturbs sleep cycles, makes you more prone to snoring and sleep apnoea, and it potentially leads to more bathroom trips during the night.
Even late afternoon ‘happy hour’ drinking – around six hours before bedtime – also disrupts sleep, even though alcohol is no longer in the brain at bedtime.
REM and non-REM sleep are the two main stages of sleep. REM sleep first occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep.
In REM sleep, breathing becomes faster and irregular, heart rate and blood pressure rise to near waking levels, and brain activity also increases. Your eyes also move rapidly from side to side behind closed eyelids during REM sleep, hence its name.
Most of your dreaming occurs during REM sleep, but some can also occur in non-REM sleep. Interestingly, your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralysed during REM sleep, which researchers believe helps us in staying asleep by preventing you from ‘acting out’ your dreams.
Getting the right amount of good sleep plays a big role in your wellbeing on many levels. We hope this quiz has help you know a little bit more about this mental health superpower.
So how do you break free from the cycle of worrying thoughts? With mindfulness and meditation? With stress-relieving or relaxation techniques?
Today, we’ll tell you about an additional tool for your self-help kit – getting out of your head, into your body and being physically active.
Enter: the exercise effect.
Everyone experiences anxiety at some stage. However, if these anxious feelings start to disrupt or interfere with your daily life, if you feel fearful most or all the time, or if you notice you are avoiding people, places or activities – then it’s time to do something about it.
One in three women will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. But the good news is, anxiety can be managed and mental health can be improved.
Here, we cover the three main ways to address anxiety:
Read more about them and see what may work for you.
With families having to stay at home to help ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 infection, it has led to a spike in reports of domestic violence. We asked some experts for strategies and advice for families at risk.
Lifeline provides compassionate support for people in crisis. No judgement. No conditions. No agenda. Just a human connection to help people get through their darkest moments. Access their 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
In the days leading up to their periods, many premenstrual women have long complained about poor concentration, having trouble remembering things, even struggling to make a decision. It’s called brain fog or ‘brain fatigue’ and has finally become a serious topic in women’s health.
Discover the nutrients that matter to your ‘grey matter’ and learn about the foods that can give your brain a boost.
Today’s recipe, created by our naturopath Sandra Villella, is a traditional Italian dish of slow-cooked calamari in a tomato and herb sauce… a perfect example of the brain-healthy Mediterranean diet!
Calamari (also known as squid) is a rich source of omega-3 fats, particularly DHA – the type of omega-3 that’s essential for brain development and brain function.
Cleaned and prepped calamari can be bought frozen, and sometimes in bulk, from supermarkets and seafood providers, making it a more economical and easy option than fresh fish.
What’s more, freezing actually tenderises the calamari (stops it from going rubbery) so you’ll end up with an even more delicious dish!
Take a time-out today with Zoe by doing this 5-minute meditation for Day 4 of Women's Health Week 2020. Special thanks to 28 by Sam Wood.
3 million people in Australia are living with anxiety or depression. Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
For Women's Health Week last year, Professor Jayashri Kulkarni AM, director of the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre and one of Australia’s leading experts on women’s mental health joined us to talk about how hormones impact mental health.
Is it time to add the word ‘enough’ to the top of your ever-growing to-do list? Get advice straight from mental health experts on how to tell if you're doing too much – and how to stop.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on Women's Health Week 2020 - what you liked, what you didn’t, and what you want to see more of next year.