Alcohol

Women are drinking more during the pandemic, and it’s probably got a lot to do with their mental health

COVID-19 has significantly affected our collective mental health.

For many people, social disconnection, financial strain, increased obligations in the home and ongoing uncertainty have created distress – and with it, a need for new ways of coping.

One way people may choose to cope with stress is through the use of alcohol.

We’re now starting to understand the degree to which alcohol use has increased in Australia during COVID-19. While the data aren’t alarming so far, they suggest women are drinking at higher levels than usual during the pandemic, more so than men.

This trend is likely linked to the levels of stress and anxiety women are feeling at the moment – which, research suggests, are disproportionate to the distress men are experiencing.

Alcohol consumption and COVID-19

Early reports of increased alcohol purchasing raised the alarm that we might see an increase in alcohol use across the population during lockdown.

However, recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests overall, alcohol consumption remained relatively stable during April. Only 14% of Australians reported increased use of alcohol in the previous month.

But women are over-represented in this group. Some 18% of women reported increased alcohol use in the previous month, compared with only 10.8% of men.

Similarly, preliminary results from our COVID-19 mental health survey of 1,200 Australians in April found a significantly higher proportion of women had increased their alcohol intake: 31.8%, versus 22.5% of men.

Why are we seeing this disparity between women and men? The answers may lie in what we know about why women drink, and in the disproportionate burden of stress women are facing as a result of COVID-19.

Women tend to drink for different reasons to men

In Australia in 2016, 14% of men and 7% of women drank alcohol to risky levels.

Although fewer women than men drink alcohol regularly, alcohol consumption among women has increased in the past decade, particularly in middle-aged and older women. This mirrors international trends that suggest women may be catching up to men in terms of their alcohol consumption.

Overall, Australia has observed a reduction in risky drinking across the population, with increasing numbers of young people choosing not to drink.

In contrast, women in their 50s are the only subset of the Australian population with rising rates of alcohol use. In 2016, data showed for the first time, they were more likely to drink at risky levels than younger women.

Drinking has become more normalised among women in this middle-to-older age group, potentially contributing to the rise in alcohol use. Alcohol has become a commonly accepted coping mechanism for distress, with women feeling comfortable to say “I just had a bad day. I needed to have a drink”.

This highlights a theme that frequently underpins problematic alcohol use in women: what’s termed a “coping motive”. Many studies have found more women drink alcohol to cope – with difficult emotions or stressful circumstances – as compared to men, who more often drink alcohol in social settings or as a reward.

Women seem to be struggling more during the pandemic

With this in mind, it’s unsurprising we’re seeing increased alcohol consumption among women during COVID-19. International data show women have been more likely to experience symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Australian data show loneliness has been more of a problem for women (28%) than men (16%) during this past month under lockdown.

Caregiver load has also been a source of stress, with women almost three times more likely than men to be looking after children full-time on their own during COVID-19.

While we don’t have enough evidence yet to tell us conclusively whether family violence incidents have increased during the pandemic, this may add to the mental health burden for some women during COVID-19.

Further, younger female workers are disproportionately affected by the economic crisis in the wake of COVID-19. The fact women make up a majority of the casual workforce makes them highly vulnerable at this time.

Together, it seems COVID-19 is having a different mental health impact on women compared to men. And this is likely to be intertwined with their increased drinking during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether we’ll see higher rates of problem alcohol use or dependence in women after the pandemic remains unclear. However, we know women who drink at unsafe levels experience complications more quickly, and enter treatment later, with perceived stigma a barrier to help-seeking.

It’s vital we draw our attention to these gender-specific differences in mental health and alcohol consumption as we formulate our mental health pandemic plan.

If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.The Conversation

Shalini Arunogiri, Addiction Psychiatrist, Senior Lecturer, Monash University; Caroline Gurvich, Senior Research Fellow and Clinical Neuropsychologist, Monash University, and Jayashri Kulkarni, Professor of Psychiatry, Monash University


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Various online training options emerge to rescue your health and fitness goals

It’s no secret us Gold Coasters love hitting the gym, so we’re all dealing with the news that our favourite sweat studios have had to close as part of the government’s new lockdown measures.

So now as well as trying to figure out where the next roll of toilet paper is coming from, we’re now also wondering how we’re going to get our assess into shape in our own living rooms!? Coz seriously, the couch teases me. It’s going to be hard.

The good news is – there are options, with a few fitness fams revealing new online programs or beefing up existing ones to get us through the dark patch.

We’ve gathered a few different options together, in what’s about to be the newest fitness fad: online sweating.

  1. F45, the cultiest of cults.

It’s no secret that those F45s will whip you into shape and quick, though we’re also extremely aware of the cost to the hip pocket for the pleasure.

Though as the world wide fitness phenomenon tries to keep up with our rapidly changing times, it’s launched an online version of it’s workouts for just a fraction of the price.

For just $10 a week (instead of the usual $66) you can have access to the high intensity interval training that the world’s gone mad for.

And you can do the workouts right from the comfort of your own home!

2. Hollywood-hotstuff Chris Hemsworth’s ‘Centr Fit’ app

Chris Hemsworth’s once again gone above and beyond to prove what a generally nice person he is and a total saviour in times of crisis. See, Thor.

He’s announced that his extremely successful online training and wellness guide ‘Centr’ will now become extremely accessible for those struggling with cash at the moment.

You can grab six weeks FREE of his app (usually $20ish a month), which gives you access to some of the trainers, chefs and coaches he’s used himself.

Pretty sure there’s some decent shirtless footage of ours truly to just drool over if you’re not really after the workouts.

“Centr was founded to make health and happiness accessible to all, and I hope that this will make that access even easier during the current global health crisis.

“I think now more than ever is when we need to focus on what I believe to be the 3 key pillars to living healthier and happier- movement, nutrition, and mental fitness,” Hemsworth says in his Instagram post.

Please stop giving us reasons to stalk you Chris, but thanks.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Hi there all, during this period of self isolation and uncertainty, I am offering six weeks of my health and fitness program @Centrfit for FREE! Go to centr.com and sign-up.  Centr was founded to make health and happiness accessible to all, and I hope that this will make that access even easier during the current global health crisis. I think now more than ever is when we need to focus on what I believe to be the 3 key pillars to living healthier and happier- movement, nutrition, and mental fitness. In recent weeks Centr has seen a groundswell of support from our customers and communities, with thousands of members around the world coming together and sharing how the program has brought them positivity and support during these difficult times. Available at centr.com only, for new users only.

A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on

3. Free workouts twice a week with the ‘Keep it Cleaner’ gang!

If you got a crush on Steph Claire Smith, like G Flip in her song ‘Drink too much’, then introduce her to your living room with her wellness app Keep It Cleaner.

Her and bestie Laura Henshaw will give you access to the lot: HIIT, boxing, strength training, running programs, along with healthy meal plans, meditation sessions and life advice.

They’ve announced FREE live PT sessions twice a week, on Wednesday and Friday mornings,  for anyone to join in via social media. What is this world?!

“With recent events taking place around the world at the moment, we understand getting to the gym can be more difficult than usual. We want to ensure we are offering ways in which we can continue to stay connected, but also encourage overall wellbeing during this challenging time.

“We will be offering free live online workouts hosted by Steph Claire Smith & Laura Henshaw to help you remain calm and active with an inspiring community.

“With no equipment required, these sweat sessions will promise to get your heart racing, all from the comfort of your own living room.

“In these unique times, lets come together and be there for one another,” their Facbeook post reads.

You can access the workouts at the ‘Keep it Cleaner’ Public Facebook Page OR Instagram live via @keepitcleaner.

IT seems the workouts stay on their Facebook pages, for those who can’t make it to the live ones. So you can just watch it later!

Here’s one now!

Stomach Pain Cramp

National report confirms Endometriosis is a silent epidemic

One in 10 Australian women are living with Endometriosis, according to a national report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, Endometriosis in Australia: prevalence and hospitalisations, also revealed many women are not aware they suffer with the chronic condition, or that their fertility is at risk.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to that normally found lining the uterus occurs in other parts of the body. The tissue responds to hormones released by the ovaries, which can lead to bleeding, inflammation and scarring.

Senior Monash IVF specialist, Dr Kee Ong said endometriosis is as common as Asthma, yet we know very little about it.

“Awareness and understanding are lacking across the spectrum from patients to doctors. It’s massively undiagnosed and one of the most common causes of infertility,”  he said.

“Endometriosis is variable in presentation, meaning some patients will suffer with very severe symptoms while others will experience no symptoms at all.

“Women are waiting seven to 10 years for a correct diagnosis for a chronic condition which can effect both quality of life and fertility.

Dr Kee Ong performing laparoscopy surgery. PHOTO: Supplied

“It really is a silent epidemic which only comes to light for many women when they start trying for a baby. We need to get to it sooner.”

Endometriosis is diagnosed through key-hole surgery called a laparoscopy.

Of the 410 laparoscopies performed on his patients last year, Dr Ong said the condition was found in a significant percentage with many reporting no prior symptoms of pain.

The incidence of endometriosis in sub-fertile females is 20 to 40%, significantly higher than that of the general population.

“Early diagnosis is essential and there is hope! Surgery significantly improves the chances of conceiving and patients can often avoid the IVF path,” Dr Ong said.

“I see a lot of patients who have been through the extreme emotional and financial turmoil of repeated IVF cycles that had a lessor chance of success due to undiagnosed endometriosis. This is one of the most heart-breaking things to see.”

Some of the symptoms of endometriosis women can look out for include pain during sex or periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding between periods, lethargy and reduced fertility.

For more information on Endometriosis, and Dr Kee Ong, visit: goldcoastfertilityspecialist.com.au/

This is a sponsored editorial brought to you by Dr Kee Ong.

 

Support Session

Free information session to support cancer survivors

Support is an important part of any cancer journey – which is why Cancer Council Queensland is hosting a free support and information session this month for locals who have finished or are near the end of initial treatment for cancer and their loved ones.

Treatment’s finished…What now? will be held on Friday, November 22 from 9am – 12pm at Cancer Council Queensland’s Gold Coast office at 1 Short St, Southport.

The session will provide information on lymphoedema symptoms and treatment, long term and late side effects of treatment, survivorship and offer ways to cope with the physical and emotional changes that occur.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said more people are surviving cancer today than any other time in history.

“More people are surviving cancer as a result of advancements in cancer research and treatment options,” Ms McMillan said.

“Following treatment, cancer survivors have a range of physical, psychological and social needs that can’t be addressed with a one-size-fits-all approach.

“This free session will help those impacted by cancer as they adjust to life after cancer treatment.

“Our information session will cover a range of topics, including dealing with various emotions, late effects of treatment, and psychological and social transitions.”

Ms McMillan said the session created an opportunity for locals to connect with other people dealing with the same issues.

“Sharing experiences with others in a supportive environment can help those affected by cancer know that they are not alone,” Ms McMillan said.

“We encourage all cancer survivors, their friends and families, to join us for a morning of support and information.”

Registrations for the information session are open until November 15. To reserve your space, please visit, cancerqld.org.au/get-support/community-events/information-sessions/ or call 131120.

measles

Urgent measles alert issued for Gold Coast after ANOTHER confirmed case

There’s been a fresh measles scare for the Gold Coast after a person visited a number of locations in the north while infected with the highly contagious disease.

Gold Coast Health issued the urgent alert on Friday after being “notified of a case of measles on the Gold Coast.”

They said the person was isolated during most of the infectious period, however urged anyone who has visited Brygon Creek Chempro Chemist on Tuesday 15 October between 4.45pm and 5.30pm and 7-eleven Pimpama on the afternoon of 17 October, to be alert for measles symptoms.

“In view of this new case, the current measles outbreak in Brisbane’s South and the ongoing significant measles outbreak in New Zealand, we ask people in the locations above at these times,
as well as the public in general, to be alert for symptoms of measles over the next three weeks,” Gold Coast Health said in a statement.

“We encourage travellers to ensure they are vaccinated before their departure and to be vigilant for signs and symptoms of measles three weeks after their return to Australia.”

The initial symptoms of measles can include fever, lethargy, runny nose, moist cough and sore red eyes.

This is followed a few days later by a blotchy, red rash which often starts on the face and then becomes widespread over the body.

“If you have any of the measles symptoms contact your GP – it is VERY important to call the medical practice first if you think you might have measles, so that staff can take precautions to avoid spreading it to others,” Gold Coast Health warned.