A survey has found women in rural areas of New Zealand are struggling to deal with high levels of anxiety and depression.
Rural Women New Zealand’s 2013 ‘feeling rotten’ survey – the second the organisation has undertaken – found:
- 70.5 percent of respondents feel anxious some or all of the time
- 42 percent of those report feeling overwhelmed as the main cause, followed by financial stress (38 percent)
- 60.9 percent of respondents suffered from depression, with 45.1 percent feeling “moderate symptoms”.
- 22 percent of those suffering depression cited family stress as a cause, 18.8 percent reported work stress and 12.8 percent reported some form of sexual, physical or mental abuse.
“We’d been hearing cases of suicides, we’d been hearing a lot of cases of depression and stress at the time, people not surviving or thriving in some very tough environments,” says the organisation’s head Noeline Holt.
The survey of 403 respondents found a high number reporting sexual, physical or mental abuse within their home leading to depression.
Ms Holt says the actual number could be even higher.
“Rural New Zealand is well-known, and it’s the same throughout the world in rural areas, that family violence and personal violence like abuse, sexual and otherwise, is very under-reported.”
She believes often it can be even harder for a woman in a rural community to speak up.
“One of the difficulties they have in rural communities, if it’s a very small community, they all know everybody and they are likely to be family. There’s difficulties there, the other worry is there’s a single policeman in a small station somewhere out in a rural area, he may play rugby with the perpetrators. That kind of thing is very difficult,” says Ms Holt.
“The other difficulty is if you’re on a farm where do you go?”
Rural Women NZ has answered this question by establishing informal arrangements to create options for people to lay low at other houses.
Ms Holt says rural women need to be aware sleep deprivation is quite prevalent, even though most people who undertook the survey reported sleeping for eight hours a night.
“They sleep the same amount of hours as urban women… but they work longer hours and they do harder, more physical work like driving tractors, driving quadbikes, bringing in animals.”
She says rural women need to work together to help prevent depression and anxiety from creeping in, and communities need to band together.
“There is an issue there, [the perception] that it’s weak to put your hand up, to say ‘I don’t feel so good, I feel depressed, I’m having suicidal thoughts’,” she says.
“I think the important thing is to just work hard with people and talk with people and ensure they are getting the right support.”
Rural Women NZ Feeling Rotten Survey results
Signs of depression
The Ministry of Health has a list of depression warning signs on its website.
- Constantly feeling down or hopeless
- Having little interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy
- Irritability or restlessness feeling tired all the time, or general loss of energy
- Feelings of emptiness or loneliness
- No longer interested in favourite activities
- Sleep problems – too much, or too little
- Weight loss or gain
- Low self-esteem
- Problems with concentration
- Reduced sex drive
- Thinking about death a lot
Free, confidential help is available through the following organisations:
Ministry of Health depression helpline (8am – midnight): 0800 111 757
Lifeline (24 hours): 0800 543 354
The Lowdown (youth oriented): free text 5626 or call 0800 111 757 (8am – midnight)
The Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254
Full survey results:
Of those who feel anxious some or all of the time, the top three causes are 1: overwhelmed/over-extended - 42 percent; 2: Money/financial stress -38 percent; 3: 13 percent family issues.
Of those respondents who feel anxious some or all of the time, 74.8 percent have suffered from depression.
Of those who feel anxious, 59.8 percent currently receive or have received medication and/or counselling.
Of those respondents who feel anxious some or all of the time, 38.6 percent were offered support; 16 percent sought out support; 38.6% did not seek and were not offered support.
The support either offered or sought the most was, 43.4 percent counselling support and 18.4% friends support.
Of those who have suffered from depression, 45.1 percent felt they had moderate symptoms.
Of those who have suffered from depression, 22 percent cited family stress and issues as a contributor; 18.8 percent work stress; 16.8 percent post-natal depression; and 12.8 percent suffered depression due to abuse, physical, sexual or mental.
Of those who have suffered from depression, 69.6 percent do receive or have received medication and/or counselling.
Of those who have suffered from depression, 39 percent did not seek and were not offered other support; 35% were offered support; 21% sought other support; 5 percent were offered support, but declined it.
Of those who suffered from depression, 92.2 percent were female and 7.8 percent male.
Of those who feel anxious some or all of the time, 93.3 percent were female and 6.7 percent were male.
source: newshub archive