.Some disorders are more common in women such as depression and anxiety. There are also certain types of depression that are unique to women. Some women may experience symptoms of mental disorders at times of hormone change, such as perinatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopause-related depression. When it comes to other mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, research has not found differences in rates that men and women experiences these illnesses. But, women may experience these illnesses differently – certain symptoms may be more common in women than in men, and the course of the illness can be affected by the sex of the individual.
Women and men can develop most of the same mental disorders and conditions, but may experience different symptoms. Some symptoms include:
- Persistent sadness or feelings of hopelessness
- Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Excessive fear or worry
- Seeing or hearing things that are not there
- Extremely high and low moods
- Aches, headaches, or digestive problems without a clear cause
- Social withdrawal
- Thoughts of suicide
The facts of Mental Health:
- Mental illness is associated with a significant burden of morbidity and disability.
- Lifetime prevalence rates for any kind of psychological disorder are higher than previously thought, are increasing in recent cohorts and affect nearly half the population.
- Despite being common, mental illness is under diagnosed by doctors. Less than half of those who meet diagnostic criteria for psychological disorders are identified by doctors.
- Patients, too, appear reluctant to seek professional help. Only 2 in every 5 people experiencing a mood, anxiety or substance use disorder seeking assistance in the year of the onset of the disorder.
- Overall rates of psychiatric disorder are almost identical for men and women but striking gender differences are found in the patterns of mental illness.
Specific risk factors:
- Depression is not only the most common women’s mental health problem but may be more persistent in women than men. More research is needed.
- Reducing the over representation of women who are depressed would contribute significantly to lessening the global burden of disability caused by psychological disorders.
- The lifetime prevalence rate for alcohol dependence, another common disorder, is more than twice as high in men than women. In developed countries, approximately 1 in 5 men and 1 in 12 women develop alcohol dependence during their lives.
- Men are also more than three times more likely to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder than women.
- There are no marked gender differences in the rates of severe mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that affect less than 2% of the population.
- Gender differences have been reported in age of onset of symptoms, frequency of psychotic symptoms, course of these disorders, social adjustment and long term outcome.
- The disability associated with mental illness falls most heavily on those who experience three or more comorbid disorders. Again, women predominate.
Women’s mental health: The Facts
- Depressive disorders account for close to 41.9% of the disability from neuropsychiatric disorders among women compared to 29.3% among men.
- Leading mental health problems of the older adults are depression, organic brain syndromes and dementias. A majority are women.
- An estimated 80% of 50 million people affected by violent conflicts, civil wars, disasters, and displacement are women and children.
- Lifetime prevalence rate of violence against women ranges from 16% to 50%.
- At least one in five women suffer rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.
Research shows that there are 3 main factors which are highly protective against the development of mental problems especially depression. These are:
- having sufficient autonomy to exercise some control in response to severe events.
- access to some material resources that allow the possibility of making choices in the face of severe events.
- psychological support from family, friends, or health providers is powerfully protective.
Depression, anxiety, psychological distress, sexual violence, domestic violence and escalating rates of substance use affect women to a greater extent than men across different countries and different settings.
Pressures created by their multiple roles, gender discrimination and associated factors of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, overwork, domestic violence and sexual abuse, combine to account for women’s poor mental health. There is a positive relationship between the frequency and severity of such social factors and the frequency and severity of mental health problems in women. Severe life events that cause a sense of loss, inferiority, humiliation or entrapment can predict depression.
Up to 20% of those attending primary health care in developing countries suffer from anxiety and/or depressive disorders. Communication between health workers and women patients is extremely authoritarian in many countries, making a woman’s disclosure of psychological and emotional distress difficult, and often stigmatized. When women dare to disclose their problems, many health workers tend to have gender biases which lead them to either over-treat or under-treat women.
Focus in Women’s Mental Health
- Build evidence on the prevalence and causes of mental health problems in women as well as on the mediating and protective factors.
- Promote the formulation and implementation of health policies that address women’s needs and concerns from childhood to old age.
- Enhance the competence of primary health care providers to recognize and treat mental health consequences of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and acute and chronic stress in women.
How to Recognize the Warning Signs of Suicide
SUICIDE WARNING — Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very seriously.
Be especially concerned if a person is exhibiting any of these warning signs and has attempted suicide in the past. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20% and 50% of people who commit suicide have had a previous attempt.
Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) or the deaf hotline at 800-799-4889.
The best way to minimize the risk of suicide is to know the risk factors and to recognize the warning signs of suicide.
It could save someone’s life.
How Prevalent Is Suicide?
**Suicide is a potentially preventable public health problem.**
In 2014, the last year for which statistics are available, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. That year, there were nearly 43,000 suicides, and 1.3 million adults attempted suicide, according to the CDC.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people from age 10 to age 34.
Men take their lives nearly four times the rate of women, accounting for 78% of suicides in the U.S.
There risk factors for suicide ?
Many times, people who die by suicide have an alcohol or substance abuse problem. Often they have that problem in combination with other mental disorders.
Adverse or traumatic life events in combination with other risk factors, such as clinical depression, may lead to suicide. But suicide and suicidal behavior are never normal responses to stress.
Other risk factors for suicide include:
- One or more prior suicide attempts
- Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
- Family history of suicide
- Family violence
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Keeping firearms in the home
- Chronic physical illness, includingchronic pain
- Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
What is the Warning Signs of Suicide?
Warning signs that someone may be thinking about or planning to commit suicide include:
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Clinical depression — deep sadness, loss of interest,trouble sleeping and eating — that gets worse
- Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
- Losing interest in things one used to care about
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
- Saying things like “it would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out”
- Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
- Talking about suicide or killing one’s self
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
Men are more likely to report substance misuse disorders – around two and a half times more frequently than women. Conditions such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and schizophrenia did not have statistically significant differences between genders in adults.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, get help immediately. You can call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).