Common Psychological Disorders Among Women
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Are you a woman who experiences depression, anxiety, or any other mental health condition? If you said “yes,” then take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. A recent survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that 23% of the female population – that is, 29 million American women – has a diagnosable mental health disorder in the last year alone. And those are just the cases we know about; Experts say that it’s likely that millions of other such cases go unreported and, worse – untreated.
In fact, some psychological conditions are more likely to affect women than men and can play a significant role in a woman’s overall health and well-being.
To be clear, there are mental health-related conditions that affect men more often, such as autism, early onset schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder, and alcoholism.
But, common psychological disorders among women include:
- Depression – Women are twice as likely as men to get depression, 12% of women compared to 6% of men
- Anxiety and specific phobias – Women are twice as likely as men to have panic disorder, generalized anxiety, and specific phobias. But, men and women are equally affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobias
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD after experiencing/witnessing a traumatic event
- Suicide attempts – While men are four times more likely to die from suicide than women but, women attempt suicide two or three times more often than men
- Eating disorders – At least 85% of all anorexia and bulimia cases and 65% of binge-eating disorder cases involve women
Women’s Mental Health: Symptoms Differ from Men’s
As with other medical conditions, such as heart attack, the symptoms women experience often differ from men’s, causing some women’s psychological disorders to go unnoticed by their health care providers, and maybe even by themselves. That’s because most medical information and ‘knowledge’ is funneled through a male-gender bias. Therefore, the subsequent treatment they receive may differ from the norm.
Examples of the Differences in Symptomology by Gender
- Depressed men are more likely to report job-related problems, while women with depression are more likely to report physical issues, like fatigue or appetite and sleep disturbances.
- Women tend to develop alcohol abuse problems within a few years of the onset of depression, unlike their depressed male counterparts.
- Women are more likely to turn to emotional or religious outlets as a way to mitigate their depression symptoms when compared to men, who more often use such outlets as sports and other hobbies.
- Schizophrenia in women tends to manifest in depression and thought impairment, while men with schizophrenia generally become apathetic and socially isolated.
- Women with schizophrenia also report experiencing more mood symptoms – something that can complicate making an accurate diagnosis and often requiring a prescription for both a mood stabilizer as well as an anti-psychotic medication.
Women’s Mental Health: Why the Gender Differences?
Biological influences. Female hormonal fluctuations are well-known culprits when it comes to mood and depression. Also, women tend to produce less of serotonin (a mood stabilizer) as well as create it at a slower rate than men, which could account for the higher rates of depression among women.
Socio-cultural influences. Women continue to face unfair disadvantages when it comes to socio-economic power, status, position, and independence, which are contributing factors in the development of depression and other psychological disorders. Also, keep in mind that women are still the primary caregivers for children and they also provide 80% of all caregiving for a chronically ill parent or parents, adding more stress to a woman’s life.
Trauma. Girls experience sexual abuse more often than boys do, and one in five women will be raped or experience an attempted rape, which can lead to depression, panic disorder, and PTSD.
Gender bias in medicine. Women, in general, are less likely to seek medical attention, fearing raising a false alarm as well as fearing to be thought of and treated as a hysterical woman; a hypochondriac. There still exists this stigma for women patients. Which informs this next point:
Behavioral influences. Women are more likely to report mental health concerns to a general practitioner, while men tend to report to a mental health specialist. Another key aspect to keep in mind is that abused women are often afraid to report physical violence and abuse.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, addiction, and/or mental illness, The Orchid Recovery Center is here for you. We are an all-women treatment center specializing in dual diagnosis treatment and care. If you’re feeling run-down, moody, sad for no apparent reason, or any other way in which your mood, energy, and outlook are affected negatively, it’s time to talk to a professional. There are so many different kinds of treatments and therapies out there that can ease your symptoms and help you live a life worth living. Please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.