Although women and men experience around the same number of mental health problems, there’s several mental health issues more likely to occur in women than men.
Many women don’t only have their own health to worry about. It’s traditionally women who tend to take responsibility for the care of their family members. For example, many women shop for their family, influencing their diet and often care for unwell family members. A lot of women are carers, whether for their children, partner or other relatives. And statistics suggest around 75% of those who care for someone with a mental health issue are women. It’s estimated that women carers are around 23% more likely to develop a problem with anxiety or depression than other women. Additionally, as women reach mid to later life they may have to care both for children and older relatives as well as full time work. This combination has been shown to increase stress and can leave women susceptible to certain mental problems.
It’s thought that around women are more likely to be treated for a mental health issue rather than men. Statistics show that about 29% of women are treated for mental health compared to only 17% in men. However as is often noted, women are more likely to talk about their problems with others and as such this could reflect their likelihood of seeking support. In particular there’s several mental health issues more likely to affect women than men;
Depression – Around 1 in 4 women seek treatment for depression at some point in their lives compared to about 1 in 10 for men. Possible reasons for this include men being less likely to seek help for their depression and women being more vulnerable to hormonal changes. Obviously women experience a greater amount of Post-Natal depression than men, although similar symptoms can appear in males as well.
Self Harm – Research indicates about 1 in 12 young people in the UK will deliberately harm themselves and the majority of these are girls. Self harm isn’t limited to inflicting harm on the surface of the body by cutting but can also be used to describe damage done by eating disorders or drug overdoses. It will usually involve the sufferer cutting, burning or bruising themselves however they may also ingest poisonous substances.
Anxiety – Women are around twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder than men. Statistics show that around 60% of those with phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are women.
Dementia – Dementia is a catch-all term for any brain syndrome which can cause multiple cognitive deficiencies. It can refer to problems with concentration, memory, problem-solving or perception. Dementia occurs due to the death of brain cells or because of damage to certain parts of the brain. It’s thought that about two thirds of people suffering from dementia are women, however this may be due to the fact that women have a higher life expectancy when compared to men.
Eating disorders – Although increasingly common in men, eating disorders are still much more likely to occur in women than men. Only 0.2% of men will develop an eating disorder compared to 1.9% of women.
Post-traumatic stress disorder – Post-Traumatic stress disorder is a physical and psychological condition caused by extremely distressing or traumatic events. Although most people will experience a trauma in their lives only a very small portion of these will develop Post-Traumatic stress disorder. Statistics indicate that, worldwide, women are more likely to be affected by Post-Traumatic stress disorder than men.
The exact causes of mental disorders are often hard to pin down, with many different aspects of a persons life contributing to it’s development. Fortunately there’s a wide range of treatments, the most usual being a combination of therapies and, if needed, medication to relieve some of the symptoms. Amongst the most commonly used psychological treatments is cognitive behavioural therapy. This aims to change your behaviour and emotional responses through use of conditioning. Other types of counselling, where the patient discusses their problems can also be used. There’s many professionally-run self help programs and a number of resources available to help sufferers.