Last Updated on April 17, 2021 by Atif
The battle against mental illness is one of the most difficult issues facing the health-care industry. To begin with, diagnosing severe illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety can be difficult. The social stigma attached to mental health conditions is perhaps the most formidable barrier to care. Women are disproportionately affected by patients’ unwillingness to seek care for mental health problems, in part because women are more vulnerable to many common mental health conditions than men.
People of any gender, race, or age may be affected by mental illnesses. The mental disorder affects over 50 million people in the United States, and you are not alone. Women, rather than men, are more likely than men to suffer from mental disorders. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 23.8 per cent of American women have experienced a diagnosable mental health condition in the previous year, compared to 15.6 per cent of men.
Does Gender Matter When It Comes to Mental Illness?
Biological causes have been shown to play a role in developing mental illness in studies. It is, in reality, a significant factor in one’s mental health and the development of mental disorders. Women’s serotonin levels are lower than men’s because they absorb the chemical faster, leading to mood swings. Females are also more susceptible to hormonal changes than males. Biological variations may play a role in the emergence of certain mental health problems.
The unipolar disorder affects twice as many women as men.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is more common in women than in men. (PTSD), and they wait much longer than men to seek care and treatment once symptoms appear.
An eating disorder affects almost ten times more women than it does men. Anorexia (excessive weight loss) tends to affect 1.9 per cent of women per year compared to 0.2 percent of men. Young women are especially vulnerable to eating disorders: bulimia (binge eating and purging) affects between 0.5 and 1% of young women over the course of a year.
Some Factors Affecting Women’s Mental Illness
Aside from gender, sociocultural influences and values have a significant impact on women. Women have traditionally been the subordinate group in society, with primary caregiver responsibilities for children and the elderly. Despite the fact that gender roles have shifted in our society, with women taking on more powerful jobs and men remaining at home to care for children, women still face a significant amount of stress. Depression and panic attacks may result from this stress.
Females have unfortunately been sexualized in our culture, whether by magazines, movies, television shows, or peer relationships. According to the American Psychological Association, this repeated negative sexualization may interfere with the healthy development of female self-esteem and self-image. Any of these factors can contribute to guilt, depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as a negative self-image.
Along with the sexualization of women, brutality and stigmat harassment are two additional factors that contribute to women’s mental health problems. According to reports, one out of every five women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape, and females are more likely to be sexually abused. Women make up an estimated 80% of casualties during civil strife and violent conflicts. Indeed, the lifetime prevalence of violence against women is estimated to be between 16 and 50 percent.
Women’s Mental Illnesses
Women are two times more likely than men to experience mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders, and panic disorders, according to the World Health Organization. Women are also two to three times more likely than men to attempt suicide, despite the fact that men commit suicide four times more often.
Whether male or female, old or young, wealthy or impoverished, every patient has a different experience with mental illness. Even though the signs and effects of specific mental health disorders are similar, women also face different obstacles than men in terms of how they view and interpret symptoms and how treatment methods are formulated.
Here’s a brief look at how common mental health problems impact women differently than men.
Men and women have different symptoms, so it’s important to consider the various factors that may lead to each illness. Females, for example, are more likely to experience physical symptoms in connection with mental illness. Some of the symptoms include fatigue, a loss of appetite,headaches. restlessness, and nausea.
The following are some of the most common mental disorders that affect women:
Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, with 12 percent of women suffering from it than 6 percent of men. Depression is a feeling of overwhelming sorrow or melancholy that may be episodic (lasting days, weeks, or longer) or chronic (lasting for months or years) (persistent depression). Loss of enthusiasm for commonplace events, appetite changes, and a feeling of worthlessness are all potential symptoms. Depressive disorders include major depression, bipolar disorder, and postpartum depression. Other short facts about depression include the following:
Women who are depressed often turn to substance dependence years after their depression has begun.
Women often turn to religion and emotional outlets in order to deal with depression.
Despite the fact that women are two times more likely than men to suffer from depression, both genders have similar rates of developing bipolar disorder (manic depression).
Symptoms of depression include:
- Sadness, hopelessness, ineffectiveness, or emptiness
- Crying a lot and no longer participating in favorite events
- Lack of energy inability to concentrate, recall, or make decisions
- Inability to sleep, excessive sleeping, or difficulty getting out of bed
- In an effort to “feel better,” people lose their appetite, lose weight, or overeat.
- Suicide, self-harm, or death thoughts
- Consistent headaches, nausea, or other physical pain that does not respond to treatment Getting easily irritated or angry
Panic Disorders are a type of anxiety disorder.
General anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety are all forms of panic disorders. Women are more likely to suffer from GAD and specific phobias. Panic disorders may occur as a result of or in combination with other illnesses such as depression or opioid addiction.
Anxiety disorder in general (GAD). GAD affects an estimated 4 million Americans, with women being two times more likely than men to develop it. Anxiety attacks can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours and are often followed by intense feelings of worry, stress, or urgency.
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder): PTSD can affect anyone and is caused by a traumatic event, but women are twice as likely to experience it. Since women are often the victims of sexual or physical abuse, PTSD may have a significant impact on how they perceive the world and themselves. Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD as a result of sexual assault.
The sociocultural factors listed earlier are major contributors to eating disorders. The sexualization of women contributes significantly to the development of negative self-confidence, negative body image problems, and low self-esteem in women. Weight has always been a scrutinized and pedestalized part of women’s lives, so it’s no surprise that they feel so much pressure to be physically flawless. Though eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are more common in adolescence, they can strike at any age. Everyday Health reports that women account for 85 percent of bulimia and anorexia cases and nearly 65 percent of binge eating disorder cases among those affected by eating disorders.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a Form of Body Dysmorphia
This disorder is described by the Cleveland Clinic as a person’s intense anxiety about a perceived physical flaw. People who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) are continually seeking reassurance about their appearance and can consider themselves “ugly” to the point of seeking treatment. Plastic surgery to remove whatever is deemed a physical flaw can be used as part of this treatment.
While both men and women are affected by the disorder, social expectations on physical appearance can make it more difficult for women to overcome. People with BDD can struggle to function at work, at home, and in social situations due to their obsession with their appearance. Blemishes and other skin problems, hair everywhere on the body (or the lack thereof), and the shape and size of particular facial features are the most common physical characteristics of concern to BDD sufferers.
Seeking Treatment for a Mental Health Issue
If you or someone you care for is suffering from a mental disorder, don’t wait to seek support. Whatever the reason for delaying treatment for a mental health condition – whether it’s because it’s “not the right time” or because you’re embarrassed or afraid – remember that the sooner you get help, the sooner you will start a new life free of the limitations of your disease.
Our experts at FRN are trained and compassionate people who appreciate the effects of mental illness on your life. If you’re concerned, don’t be; you can reach out to us at any time to learn more about how mental illnesses affect women and the recovery services available to you. Call us right now for assistance.
Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.