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Women share a number of similarities which offer us unique benefits and challenges physically, emotionally, and interpersonally.
Women today are faced with increasing confusion and frustration with regard to their roles in the world. Where once it seemed gender roles, for good or for bad, were relatively fixed and certain, women are now faced with conflicting expectations at every turn. These expectations come from our families of origin, our communities, and even the media. Women are expected to be independent and strong but still nurturing and relatively docile. They are meant to find purpose outside the home and at the same time be the perfect homemaker, partner, and mother. They are meant to be sexy and alluring, but also demure. Expectations, assumptions and the emotional lessons that we learn from birth, in large part determine how we feel about ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we make sense of the world. Couple this with the inherent physiological differences in the female brain and one can see the many challenges and opportunities that are unique to women.
Many women have long learned to suppress any of their own wants or needs in order to support the wants and needs of others. Other women have long forgotten what their own personal wants and needs even are. When the life that one lives comes in conflict with these buried wants, needs, and values, anxiety and depression arise. Even those who are lucky enough to understand their wants and needs can feel guilty or ashamed for expressing them.
In fact, women today are at 70% greater risk for having a major depressive episode within their lifetime as compared to men (Sue & Sue, 2016). Women also report more physical and emotional symptoms of stress than men do (http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2010/gender-stress.aspx).
Of course all genders suffer from depression, anxiety, and interpersonal challenges. The point is that differences in gender physiology and sociology create different causes for these challenges and also different solutions. It is critical to keep these differences in mind when deciding how to treat any specific emotional challenge.
Therapy can teach you new ways of responding physically, emotionally, and interpersonally to the challenges that are causing distress, are holding you back and are keeping you stuck. If you are living a life that is less than what you want, therapy can help you to get to the bottom of what is creating your challenges, determine where your life isn’t quite fitting your wants, needs, and values, and build a road map to get you to the life that you want to live.