Why We Need To Pay Attention to Women’s Mental Health
The gender differences in mental health cannot be overlooked any longer
June 8, 2021
When it comes to the importance of mental health care for women, it is important to take a look at how their mental health issues differ from those of men. Newer research suggests women are more prone to psychological problems, such as depression, largely due in part to differences in the brains of men and women.
There are long-standing stereotypes around differences in genders that have been immersed in our societies and cultures. Gender discrepancies have even made their way into mental health research and care.
Even though progress has been made in decreasing the stigma surrounding mental health issues, there is still more work to be done in the field, especially when looking at variations in mental health between genders.
It’s so important for all mental health providers and patients to understand how gender may impact the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues.
This article is focused on the biological differences between men and women and the variances in mental health between the two. We understand that not all gender identity fits into one of these two categories. This article does not exclude the validity of those who identify with other genders.
How Does Mental Health Differ Between Genders?
Sex and gender differences are important determinants of mental health and mental illness. For clarity, sex refers to biological differences between males and females. Gender refers to social roles and behaviors usually exhibited by men and women in society.
The development of mental health issues is usually a combination of genetics and the role and experience the person has in society. Different genders have very different experiences. The combination of the two can influence how mental health issues develop.
Research has also shown that there are significant differences between genders when it comes to the development of common mental health disorders. These include eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.
By unearthing the causes of gender differences in mental health, more people can benefit from increased accuracy in diagnosing mental health conditions and more effective, tailored treatment options.
A Closer Look at the Differences Experienced
One of the most common mental health disorders someone might struggle with is depression. Twice as many women experience depression at some point in their lives when compared to men. Gender, genetic, social, and economic differences all play a role in the development of depression in women.
Major depressive disorder accounts for a significant amount of disability worldwide. Depressive disorders account for more than 40% of disability in women. In men, they account for just under 30% of disability.
Anxiety is another very common mental health issue—one that women are twice as likely to experience as men. Testosterone, which is typically found in higher amounts in men than women, has been found to have antidepressant and antianxiety benefits. Also, women are more likely to seek help for anxiety than men. This may contribute to a higher diagnosis rate in women.
The overwhelming majority of individuals who are exposed to violent conflicts, civil wars, displacement from home, and natural disasters are women and children. About 20% of all women will experience rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime. This may increase the risk of developing a mental health issue. Women are exposed to higher levels of sexual violence and have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with sexual violence.
PTSD is a very common mental health disorder. When people think of PTSD, they often think of people exposed to combat violence. While this is one factor, women are twice as likely to experience PTSD as men.
PTSD in women can develop following domestic violence issues, sexual abuse, and other traumatic experiences. Women are also more likely to develop serious symptoms as a result of PTSD.