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11 Women’s Health Myths to Stop Believing

MYTH 5

“Depression is a matter of personal willpower.”

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Truth: Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. “So many women believe they should be able to ‘beat this thing’ or ‘get over it,’” Terrell says, but depression is a medical condition that can be managed with therapy, medication, or in the case of postpartum depression, it may take time for symptoms to improve.

Huldeen agrees. “I find a lot of women feel guilty about feeling anxious and depressed. They say, ‘I have a good life, healthy kids, a caring partner; I have no reason to be depressed.’ Then they feel bad about feeling bad. Most women think they can will themselves out of it. I remind women that if it were that easy, we would all just feel good. Who wants to feel horrible? Nobody. It’s not your fault. Your chemicals are off in your brain. Things aren’t firing right. We can help you.”

MYTH 6

“There is a simple cure for fatness: Eat less.”

Truth: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is a mental, emotional, and physical journey that requires making healthy choices big and small throughout each day. As a starting point, Terrell recommends that each woman familiarize herself with the risks at varying body mass indexes (BMIs), both high and low, and consider her individual circumstances to determine where on the scale she would like to reside. “In some cases, women may choose to be in the overweight BMI category (25-30) rather than regress into an eating disorder they may have had in adolescence. Women may require counseling and in-depth medical assessment if a restrictive eating disorder keeps their BMI at 17,” Terrell says. Next, they could commit to small health “wins” like walking 15 minutes each day, or switching out one pop for a glass of water.

Dr. Wesley Grootwassink, OBGYN West president, encourages patients who are overweight to keep in mind that in most cases, it is possible to achieve a healthy weight regardless of family history. “People will say, ‘Everyone in my family is overweight, that’s just the way it’s going to be.’ But to just assume it’s a genetic thing, so there’s nothing you can do about it, may reduce personal responsibility,” Grootwassink says.

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