Gender plays a big role in mental health. Men and women often experience different symptoms, even when diagnosed with the same disorder. Certain mental health issues even affect women more than men. This is due to a number of reasons such as biological factors, socio-cultural influences, and the statistically higher chances that women have of experiencing sexual abuse, domestic violence, or rape in their lifetime. If you’re a woman, it’s important you know the gender-specific mental health risks you may face.
Depression is twice as common in women as it is in men. There are a number of factors that contribute to this. Women biologically develop less of the feel-good chemical serotonin and they also process it slower. Female hormone levels also fluctuate more than male’s do.
There are socio-cultural factors as well. Women are expected to balance more roles than men, and much of the domestic and child-rearing duties fall on them. But women are also more likely to seek out treatment and psychiatrists are more likely to diagnosis women than men. Men and women could realistically experience depression at the same rate, but because of the stereotype that men are meant to be unemotional, the data is skewed.
Women are twice as likely to develop General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and certain phobias than men. Similar to depression, the reasons for this are a mix of biological, socio-cultural, and psychological. Fortunately, there are ways to manage anxiety from medications to natural remedies like breathing techniques, yoga classes , and meditation.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is more commonly associated with men, mainly because it’s usually associated with the military and soldier, which have a higher percentage of males. What many people don’t realize is that women are actually twice as likely to develop the disorder after a traumatic event than men are.
A big, and unfortunate, reason behind this is because rape is the number one trigger for PTSD and nearly 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime. Childhood sexual abuse is another major contributor, and a saddening 82% of juvenile sexual abuse victims are young girls.
Although more men die from suicide (roughly four times more often) than women, women actually attempt suicide two to three times more often as men. Data shows that women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, which isn’t surprising considering they experience depression, anxiety, and PTSD at higher rates. However, because most male suicide attempts are more violent and impulsive, they are more “successful”.
Contrary to the myth, men actually do suffer from eating disorders, but not as often as women do. Societal expectations and our cultural definition of what “beauty” looks like puts pressure on girls to have the “perfect” body from a young age. 85% of all anorexia and bulimia cases are women, which should be taken seriously since anorexia is the deadliest mental illness there is.
Being a woman isn’t easy, and many of the factors that make it hard contribute to women developing these mental health issues more than men. Luckily these disorders can be treated. If you or someone you know is suffering from any of these mental health issues please contact a psychiatrist to get them help.