Women’s Mental Health Statistics
Mental health is different for everyone, but there are some important differences between women’s mental health and men’s mental health. Women appear to be afflicted with certain mental health conditions more than men and may also have different experiences with mental health treatment.
Some notable facts about women’s mental health include:
- In 2019, about 24.5% of women struggled with some type of mental illness in the last year compared to 16.3% of men.1
- Women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or an anxiety disorder than men.2,3
- 49.7% of women got help for their mental health in 2019 compared to only 36.8% of men.1
- Sigmund Freud believed that hysteria was a female-only mental health disease that was related to an unfulfilled sex drive.4 This belief helped fuel the stereotype that women are crazy.
Factors Affecting Women’s Mental Health
So why do these differences in men and women’s mental health exist? Why are some mental health disorders in women more common? There are actually several potential reasons for the relationship between women and the mental health issues that impact them the most.
Some mental health issues are not found in men because they involve changes in hormone levels that are specific to women. These women-specific mental health issues may include postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopausal depression.
Gender Bias in Treatment
Doctors can fall victim to gender bias. Because women have a history of being diagnosed with certain conditions, doctors may be quick to diagnose women with these conditions. Doctors may also see women as naturally more emotional and consequently, dismiss symptoms. According to one study, 17% of women felt that they were treated differently by a doctor because of their gender compared to only 6% of men.5 This gender bias may lead to an inaccurate diagnosis as well as less effective treatment for women.
Girls are raised differently than boys, and this upbringing can have a big impact on women’s mental health. While boys are often told to “act like a man” and “be tough,” girls are encouraged to share their feelings. In adulthood, this may result in women being more willing to get behavioral health treatment and may also account for some of the perceived differences in the prevalence of certain mental health conditions.
These different upbringings may also lead to different coping styles that can impact mental health. For example, girls are more likely to ruminate on negative feelings which is associated with a higher risk of depression.6
Domestic Violence and Abuse
Women are victims of domestic violence 76% of the time and intimate partner violence 82% of the time.7 These traumatic experiences can lead to several mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In fact, 30 to 60% of women with a mental health problem have been a victim of domestic violence.8
Improving Women’s Mental Health & Looking to the Future
Moving forward, it is important that women are getting both accurate diagnoses and effective treatment. Doctors should be aware of potentials biases and work to provide more effective treatment that is tailored to women’s coping styles and specific needs. The general public should try to move away from harmful stereotypes about women and stigmas surrounding mental health that may prevent some women from asking for help. It is important to remember that getting help for your mental health is okay and should be encouraged. Decreases in domestic violence may also reduce the prevalence of some mental health conditions in women.
At Vertava Health, we are here for you. If you or another woman you know is struggling with a mental health condition, stop waiting to get help. Our outpatient mental health programs are designed to help women get the care they need to learn to manage their symptoms and move forward with their lives.