Certain mental health disorders are more prevalent in women. Learn the reasons behind these gender differences and how you can protect your emotional well-being.
If you are a woman experiencing depression, an anxiety disorder, or another mental health condition, you are not alone.
According to a recent survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 29 million American women, or about 23 percent of the female population, have experienced a diagnosable mental health-related disorder in the last year alone. And those are just the known instances.
Experts say that millions of other cases may go unreported — and untreated.
Mental Health: Women’s Health Issues
Some mental health conditions occur more often in women and can play a significant role in the state of a woman's overall health.
While men experience higher rates of autism, early onset schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder, and alcoholism, mental health conditions more common in women include:
Even when men and women share a common mental health diagnosis, the symptoms, and subsequently the treatment, can be different.
For example, a man who is depressed is likely to report job-related problems, while a woman is more likely to report physical issues, like fatigue or appetite and sleep disturbances. Unlike their depressed male counterparts, women tend to develop problems with alcohol abuse within a few years of the onset of depression. Women are more likely to use religious and emotional outlets to offset the symptoms of depression compared to men, who often find relief through sports and other hobbies.
Women with schizophrenia more often experience depression and thought impairment, while men with schizophrenia are more likely to become apathetic and socially isolated. Women with schizophrenia typically respond faster to antipsychotic medication and need less personal care. Schizophrenic women also report more mood symptoms, which can complicate the diagnostic process and may require a prescription for mood stabilizers in addition to anti-psychotic medications.
Mental Health: Why the Gender Differences?
What goes on in the female brain and body to differentiate these responses to mental illness? The answers may lie in:
While distinctions between men and women weren't always clearly made in mental health research, in recent years government mandates have encouraged federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health to respond to the need for mental health research specific to women. Private organizations are also responding to the need to research men’s and women’s health issues separately.
For example, researchers at the Women’s Health Research Center at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., are studying many issues related to women's mental health, including:
This article was originally published at https://www.everydayhealth.com/womens-health/mental-health-issues-in-women.aspx By Debra-Lynn B HookMedically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
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