Many Women Say They Have Reached a Breaking Point – But fail to Seek Treatment

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Many Women Say They Have Reached a Breaking Point – But fail to Seek Treatment

Jim Windell

             Women may pay more attention to their feelings and emotions, and they are more likely to seek psychological treatment. While this may be truism, there are indications that many women feel depressed or anxious yet fail to seek professional help.

            According to new research from the GeneSight® Mental Health Monitor, a new nationwide survey from Myriad Genetics, Inc., two out of three women diagnosed with depression or anxiety say they have reached or are approaching their breaking point regarding their mental health.

           This breaking point can include a negative impact or a significant strain on anything from social life to caring for loved ones at home to professional obligations. Four out of 10 women who have not been diagnosed with depression or anxiety say they have reached or are reaching this point. When feeling overwhelmed, nearly three in four (72%) of women say they "just need to take a break,” with 31% believing “I need to try harder.” Only 13% said they thought “I should see a doctor” when feeling overwhelmed. 

           “Women often feel pressure to ‘hold it all together’ and not admit when they are struggling,” says Dr. Betty Jo “BJ” Fancher, a family medicine and psychiatric physician assistant with a doctorate of medical science and a masters in psychopharmacology. “Yet, if you are sobbing on the floor of your shower, throwing things in anger or repeatedly screaming into a pillow, these are signals that you have crossed a line and should see a healthcare provider about your mental health.” 

           However, the survey found that delaying mental health treatment is common among women. In fact, more than half (51%) of women diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression waited at least one year before seeking treatment – or never sought treatment at all.

           “The GeneSight Mental Health Monitor found that women are waiting more than a year – longer than they should – to get the mental health treatment they need,” noted Rachael Earls, Ph.D., a medical science liaison with Myriad Genetics, makers of the GeneSight test. “It is critical to receive treatment for mental health because we know that mental health conditions are highly comorbid with other physical diseases, such as cancer, stroke, heart disease. Why live with a mental health condition that can impact every aspect of your life until you reach a breaking point?”

           The survey found that the top reasons women diagnosed with depression or anxiety delayed treatment were:

  • “I thought it was ‘just a phase’ or that I could get over it on my own” (60%) 
  • “I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling” (50%)
  • “I didn’t want to take medication” (31%)
  • “I couldn’t afford treatment” (26%)
  • “I didn’t have health insurance” (19%)
  • “I didn’t have time to seek treatment” (18%)

           The reluctance by some women to seek treatment may be rooted in how their mental health concerns have been received by family and friends. Six in 10 of the women surveyed who had a depression or anxiety diagnosis say they have been ignored or dismissed by family, friends, and/or partners about their mental health concerns. Less than half of women (44%) say they talk to friends or family to relieve stress and anxiety.

           Six in 10 women diagnosed with depression or anxiety agree, according to the survey results,  that taking a prescription medication was the most helpful step in treating their anxiety or depression symptoms. This was more than any other action or treatment option offered in the survey, including therapy.

           Only about 30% of women who have been prescribed psychiatric medication are aware of genetic testing that may help their physicians with prescribing decisions – and only 8% of these respondents have had genetic testing. Yet, 67% of diagnosed women whose doctor did not use genetic testing said they wish their doctor had told them about and/or offered a genetic test that could provide information about how their genes may affect medication outcomes.

           The GeneSight Mental Health Monitor is a nationwide survey of U.S. adults conducted online by ACUPOLL Precision Research, Inc. It was conducted from Feb. 25 to March 11, 2022, among a statistically representative sample (n=1000) of adults age 18 and over. The survey included a representative sample of women diagnosed with depression and anxiety. The margin of error in the survey results for the total base population at a 95% confidence interval is plus or minus three %.

           To read the original report of the article from the GeneSight  Mental Health Monitor, go to:


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