The History of Hysteria: Sexism in Diagnosis

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The female body has long been misunderstood. Women are often misdiagnosed by doctors, either due to the belief that they are over-dramatizing symptoms or because of a lack of adequate research on illnesses predominantly faced by women. As frustrating as this is, it’s no new phenomenon.

Dating back to 1900 BC Egypt, an ancient medical document known as the Eber Papyrus contained references to hysterical disorders thought to be caused by abnormal movements of the uterus. In the 5th Century BC, Hippocrates was the first to coin the term “hysteria” and agreed with his predecessors that this so-called condition — attributable only to women — was due to a “wandering womb,” believed to be caused by sexual inactivity. Recommended cures were, naturally, that women should increase sexual activity within the bounds of marriage. This diagnosis was not founded in science or medical research (though that may seem obvious now), but in gender bias against women and their experience of emotions and the perceived lack of sexual interest.

As currently defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, hysteria is, “behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess.” An alternate, psychiatric definition is, “a psychoneurosis marked by emotional excitability and disturbances of the psychogenic, sensory, vasomotor, and visceral functions.” While the definition of hysteria might seem broad, it has also altered over time. While medicine and mental health have changed a great deal over the centuries, hysteria is a historically gendered diagnosis that often served as a catch-all when doctors couldn’t identify another illness. It was extremely common to find women labelled as “hysterical” defined more by their stature as women than by their symptoms. Continue reading The History of Hysteria: Sexism in Diagnosis

5 Celebrity Women Who Spoke Out About Domestic Violence

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About 20 people are victims of domestic violence every minute in the United States. Domestic violence is an enormous issue, and we need powerful voices to address it.

We wanted to salute those in the spotlight who have spoken about their personal experiences with domestic and intimate partner violence. Because survivors often suffer in silence, we hope these public voices offer inspiration and courage to those who might need support.

Tamron Hall

Tamron Hall, a host for NBC’s “Today” show, has been an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse for many years. Hall’s sister died as a result of her abusive relationship. This was the catalyst for Hall’s advocacy. Her sister’s death is still unsolved.

Hall has been open about her struggles with guilt about her sister Renate’s death. Her feelings echo those of family members across the world who have struggled with having a loved one in an abusive relationship. She started the Tamron Renate Hall Fund with her sons to help survivors of domestic abuse. Continue reading 5 Celebrity Women Who Spoke Out About Domestic Violence

Anxiety Symptoms in Women: A Quick Guide

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Anxiety symptoms in women are generally the same as in men:

  • Thoughts about everything that can go wrong or something that might be wrong already
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Insomnia (sometimes a result of the thoughts)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Becoming stressed quickly and easily
  • Sudden fear of death, embarrassment, illness, etc.
  • Fight-or-flight responses to something that can’t cause physical harm
  • Repeating ritual behaviors more than necessary (checking locks, grooming, etc.)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling like you’re choking
  • Numbness
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Muscles tightening
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Hairs standing up
  • Hives and rashes

The differences lie in how women tend to express and process these symptoms, and how they often focus their anxiety on certain issues more than men. There are also genetic, biological and neurological differences that make women more likely to develop anxiety and experience symptoms more frequently. Continue reading Anxiety Symptoms in Women: A Quick Guide

It’s Time to Screen All Pregnant Women for Depression

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We all know postpartum depression is a serious issue, but many people do not know about peripartum depression: symptoms of depression during pregnancy, especially in the weeks approaching birth.

Roughly one in five women experience an episode of depression during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth, according to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ]. About half of these women have “serious symptoms,” The New York Times reported.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force [USPSTF] issued a recommendation in The Journal of the American Medical Association that urges primary care doctors to implement depression screenings for pregnant women. These screenings will improve depression symptoms by encouraging women to proactively seek treatments such as psychotherapy, the USPSTF said. They involve questionnaires and scales designed to evaluate symptoms of depression. Continue reading It’s Time to Screen All Pregnant Women for Depression

Living Life on the Margins Within LGB Populations: Consequences of Within Group Oppression on Emotional Wellness

Living Life on the Margins Within LGB Populations

Those of us who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) are often viewed as marginalized because we are not part of the dominant sexual orientation culture, which is heterosexuality.

Though in recent years, with an ever growing presence of lesbian and gay pop culture celebrities (ex: Ellen DeGeneres), characters on TV (ex: Modern Family), as well as growing public and government support for same sex marriage, it seems the margins are getting smaller–at least for some. Still, there are challenges certain sub-populations of LGB communities face when it comes to experiencing oppression inside of a marginalized community. Continue reading Living Life on the Margins Within LGB Populations: Consequences of Within Group Oppression on Emotional Wellness