Stressed out: 4 in 10 women have reached their ‘breaking point,’ survey says

Women are more stressed out than ever, and they’re trying to ‘hold it all together’ instead of getting help, a new survey concludes.

According to the GeneSight Mental Health Monitor, a national online poll by Myriad Genetics, four in 10 women have reached what’s known as a "breaking point," or the point when life stressors become too much and cause a physical, mental or emotional breakdown. What’s more concerning, researchers say, is that women are waiting too long to seek treatment — or not seeking help at all.

"If you are sobbing on the floor of your shower, throwing things in anger or repeatedly screaming into a pillow, these are signals that you have crossed a line and should see a healthcare provider about your mental health," Betty Jo "BJ" Fancher, a family medicine and psychiatric physician assistant, said in a release. 

More than half of the 1,000 women surveyed who’ve been diagnosed with anxiety or depression waited at least a year to get help, or they never sought treatment. Why? It could be linked to the stigmas surrounding mental health, researchers say.

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"The reluctance by some women to seek treatment may be rooted in how their mental health concerns have been received by family and friends," the survey concludes.

Six in 10 women with depression or anxiety report being ignored or dismissed by family, friends and partners when they discuss mental health. Less than half of the women surveyed, 44%, say they talk to friends or family about their stress and anxiety.

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According to the survey, the top answer women gave when asked why they delayed treatment was, "I thought it was ‘just a phase’ or that I could get over it on my own."

Women also say they didn’t get help because they "didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling," or they "didn’t want to take medication." More than 25% of women couldn’t afford treatment, according to the survey, and 19% reported not seeking help because they didn’t have health insurance.

Seeking help

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, these are the common symptoms of depression to look for in loved ones or yourself:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration‚ or restlessness
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or being "slowed down"
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and that do not ease even with treatment
  • Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (tel:18002738255). Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line).

FOX’s Kelly Hayes contributed to this report. This story was reported from Seattle