A survey of more than 10,000 Australian women found 40 per cent of women have been professionally diagnosed with depression or anxiety.
The Jean Hailes Women’s Health Survey 2017, released on Sunday, also found 60 per cent did not meet the recommended 2.5 hours of weekly physical activity because for many they were “too tired” or it was too “hard” to find the time.
Two out of five women considered themselves slightly overweight, while 20 per cent said they were quite overweight.
Only a quarter had been screened for sexually transmitted infections in the last five years.
Survey director Dr Helen Brown says the findings raise particular concern about the mental health of young women.
“The 18 to 35-year-olds had the highest anxiety scores, that’s even more telling.” Technology and social media is to blame, believes Dr Brown.
“I think they put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves to be ‘ever-ready’, to be on Instagram et cetera, which means they constantly have their phone in their hand and being ready for it,” Dr Brown said.
The survey asked women what had bothered them in the past two weeks; and nearly half agreed to “worrying too much about different things”.
“They are getting a lot of information about their health but actually they’re are getting too much and so they’re getting confused as to what they should trust,” said Dr Brown.
“In the old days we used to get health messages from our GPs, you know very restricted views, and now that it’s open to everything its really hard to work out who to believe,” she observed.
The advice for women is: go back to the “basics”.
“Behaviour change is extremely complicated, we live in a very complex environment but it’s still trying to remember the basics of eating well, exercising well or being active,” said Dr Brown.
She says being active does not mean going for a 10 kilometre run or going to the gym.
“Physical activity’s not about that; it’s just making sure you’re active throughout the day, like using the stairs instead of the lift,” Dr Brown said.
KEY SURVEY FINDINGS
• 40 per cent professionally diagnosed with depression or anxiety
• Women aged 18-35 years are the most anxious
• Nearly 50 per cent reported worrying ‘excessively’ about different things several days a week
• Half had trouble sleeping
• 60 per cent do not exercise for at least 2.5 hours a week
• Being too tired and a lack of time were the main barriers to exercise
• 41 per cent said they were slightly overweight
• 21 per cent said they were quite overweight
• 95 per cent don’t smoke cigarettes regularly
• 40 per cent were not aware of their blood pressure
• 60 per cent were not aware of their cholesterol level
• Women visit the GP between 1-5 times a year
• Only a quarter underwent a screen for sexually transmitted infections in the last 5 years
Top 5 Health Worries
• Painful sex
• Bowel health
• Breast health
• Bone health
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