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10 Facts About Women’s Mental Health

What comes to mind when you read the phrase women’s mental health?

Do you picture a woman sitting in a therapist’s office, discussing her feelings and struggles? Or do you picture a woman doing yoga, taking deep breaths with her eyes closed, trying to find inner peace?

The truth is that women’s mental health encompasses both of these images and so much more. Beyond what we see on the surface, there are countless facts and statistics that shed light on the unique challenges and experiences women face when it comes to their mental well-being. In this article, we’ll explore 10 facts about women’s mental health, including common conditions and available treatment options.

1. More women receive diagnoses and treatment for mental health conditions than men.

In 2020, approximately 25.6% of women sought mental health treatment, compared to 14.6% of men. Women (21.2%) were also more likely than men (11.5%) to have used mental health medication. Additionally, the percentage of women (12.1%) receiving therapy was higher than men (7.9%). These findings suggest that women are more likely to recognise and seek help for their mental health concerns.

2. Anxiety, depression, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more prevalent in women.

Research shows that women are more likely to experience certain mental health conditions compared to men. The following conditions can affect their quality of life, relationships, work, and physical health:

  • Anxiety: Recent data reveals that 37.1% of women and 29.9% of men are grappling with high anxiety levels.
  • Depression: Among reported cases, women had a slightly higher prevalence (19%) of experiencing various forms of depression compared to men (14%).
  • Eating disorders: 90% of people diagnosed with an eating disorder are women.
  • PTSD: The prevalence of PTSD is higher among women, with rates ranging from 10% to 12%, compared to 5% to 6% among men.¹

3. Symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) present differently in women.

ADHD affects about 5% of adults globally.² However, as with many mental health conditions, the symptoms of ADHD can present differently in women compared to men. According to a 2018 study, females are more likely than males to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression rather than ADHD.³ This is due to how symptoms manifest in women who are less hyperactive and more inattentive. This disparity can lead to misdiagnosis or underdiagnosis of ADHD, resulting in women not receiving proper treatment for symptoms.

4. Hormonal changes during menstrual cycles and menopause can affect mental health.

The fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone levels during a woman’s menstrual cycle can affect her mental well-being. According to a 2022 study, women in the premenstrual or menstrual phase of their cycle may experience increases in depression and suicide or suicide attempts.⁴ Another study found hormonal changes during the transition to menopause may increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder.⁵

It’s important for women experiencing these hormonal changes to be aware of their potential impact on mental health and seek support if needed.

5. Women are more likely to attempt suicide than men but less likely to die by suicide.

Studies have revealed that women had 1.78 times greater odds of self-reported suicide attempts than men.⁶ However, women are less likely to die by suicide. The reasons for this discrepancy may include women’s preference for less violent means of attempting suicide and seeking help more often than men when in crisis.⁷

6. Postpartum depression affects 6.5% to 20% of women after giving birth.

Postpartum depression typically develops within six weeks after childbirth, casting a shadow on what should be a joyful time. Women with postpartum depression may experience extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion. This makes it challenging for them to care for themselves and their babies. Experts don’t fully understand the cause of postpartum depression, but women with the following risk factors are more likely to have the condition:

  • Experiencing physical or psychological trauma like domestic violence
  • Having a difficult relationship with a partner
  • Having a history of mental health problems earlier in life or during pregnancy
  • Not having a support network of close friends or family
  • Recently experiencing a stressful life event like bereavement

7. Women may face unique stressors related to their responsibilities and roles.

Women, particularly mothers, often have multiple responsibilities and roles, like caregiving, household management, and career obligations. These demands can be a significant source of stress, leading to mental health issues if not managed. Societal expectations and stereotypes can also contribute to stress for women, such as the pressure to “balance” or “have it all.” This added pressure can lead to feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and burnout.

8. Women are more likely to experience stigma and discrimination related to their mental health.

Stigma and discrimination are barriers that prevent people from seeking help and receiving adequate care for their mental health problems.

Women diagnosed with depression are more likely to experience stigma and discrimination related to their mental health than men, especially if they belong to marginalised groups, like ethnic minorities or LGBTQ+ communities.⁸ Women’s mental health issues are also often dismissed or misdiagnosed as hormonal or emotional problems, further contributing to the stigma and discrimination they face.

9. Women respond differently to mental health treatments.

Mental health treatments aren’t one-size-fits-all, and there’s no definitive answer to what options work best for women. Some studies suggest that women may respond differently to certain treatments than men due to differences in brain chemistry and hormonal fluctuations.⁹ That’s why it’s essential to tailor mental health treatments to women’s specific needs, preferences, and circumstances.

10. Women’s mental health care works better when it’s holistic and integrative.

Holistic, integrative approaches to mental health care are those that consider the whole person, not just their symptoms or diagnosis. They involve combining conventional treatments with complementary therapies that recognises many factors, such as lifestyle, relationships, and environment, can influence mental health issues.

For women in particular, a holistic and integrative approach may be more effective as it considers the unique challenges they face daily. This could include incorporating mindfulness practices to help manage stress and anxiety or exploring alternative therapies such as acupuncture or yoga to support overall well-being. By taking a holistic and integrative approach, mental health care providers can address the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of women’s mental health and create more personalised treatment plans. This can lead to better outcomes and an improved quality of life for women seeking mental health support.

Conventional Treatments

Medication

When diagnosed with a mental health condition, your mental health provider may prescribe medications to help you prevent or manage symptoms.

Common medications include:

  • Antidepressants to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Anti-anxiety medications to help ease symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks
  • Mood stabilisers to manage symptoms of bipolar disorder
  • Antipsychotics to treat psychotic disorders like schizophrenia

Psychotherapy (Talk Therapy)

Different types of psychotherapy may be more suitable for women, depending on their specific needs and symptoms. Individual, group, and relationship therapies are all options for women seeking mental health support.

Here are some of the most common types of therapy:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses on changing negative thinking and behaviour patterns.
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) combines elements of CBT with mindfulness to help clients manage intense emotions and develop healthier coping strategies.
  • Trauma-focused therapy is beneficial for clients who have experienced trauma and are struggling with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Complementary Therapies

These non-conventional therapies help improve overall well-being and complement conventional treatments.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Deep TMS, a non-invasive therapy that uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific areas of the brain, is effective in treating depression and other mental health conditions. The treatment demonstrated its effectiveness in 80% of clients suffering from major depression, yielding a remission rate of 65.3% and a response rate of 81.6%.¹⁰

Ketamine-Assisted Healing

Ketamine-assisted healing involves the use of a low dose of ketamine under medical supervision to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. It stimulates the growth of new neurons and connections in the brain, promoting healing and resilience. Research has shown that ketamine-assisted therapy can produce rapid and long-lasting improvements in mood.¹¹

Lifestyle Psychiatry

Lifestyle psychiatry is an integrative approach that combines traditional psychiatric treatment with lifestyle interventions such as nutrition, exercise, and stress management techniques.

The goal of this type of therapy is to address the root causes of mental health issues and improve overall well-being.

Nutritional Therapy

This therapy focuses on using food and nutrition to improve mental health. A nutritionist or registered dietitian can work with you to develop a personalised plan that includes dietary changes, supplements, and lifestyle modifications.

How We Can Help

At All Points North London, we understand that women’s mental health is a complex, multifaceted issue. We recognise that everyone has a unique story, so we tailor our approach to each client, considering their needs and circumstances. Our programmes are based on the belief in treating the whole person — body, mind, and spirit — to achieve optimal wellness.

We specifically designed The Women’s Health Pathway, a 12-week programme, to tailor to women at different life stages with various health concerns and goals. The Women’s Health Pathway provides personalised professional guidance to help our clients achieve wellness in body, mind, and soul.

Our services incorporate elements of psychotherapy, lifestyle psychiatry, nutritional therapy, and more. If you are interested in taking the next step in your journey to wellness, please call us at 0203 984 7699 or complete our online contact form.

References

  • Miranda Olff (2017) Sex and gender differences in post-traumatic stress disorder: an update, European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 8:sup4, DOI: 10.1080/20008198.2017.1351204.
  • Song P, Zha M, Yang Q, Zhang Y, Li X, Rudan I. The prevalence of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A global systematic review and meta-analysis. J Glob Health. 2021 Feb 11;11:04009. doi: 10.7189/jogh.11.04009. PMID: 33692893; PMCID: PMC7916320, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916320.
  • Martin, J., Taylor, M. J., Rydell, M., Riglin, L., Eyre, O., Lu, Y., Lundström, S., Larsson, H., Thapar, A., & Lichtenstein, P. (2018). Sex-specific manifestation of genetic risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the general population. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 59(8), 908-916. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12874, acamh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcpp.12874.
  • Handy AB, Greenfield SF, Yonkers KA, Payne LA. Psychiatric Symptoms Across the Menstrual Cycle in Adult Women: A Comprehensive Review. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2022 Mar-Apr 01;30(2):100-117. doi: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000329. PMID: 35267252; PMCID: PMC8906247, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8906247.
  • Musial N, Ali Z, Grbevski J, Veerakumar A, Sharma P. Perimenopause and First-Onset Mood Disorders: A Closer Look. Focus (Am Psychiatr Publ). 2021 Jul;19(3):330-337. doi: 10.1176/appi.focus.20200041. Epub 2021 Jul 9. PMID: 34690602; PMCID: PMC8475932, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8475932.
  • Bommersbach TJ, Rosenheck RA, Petrakis IL, Rhee TG. Why are women more likely to attempt suicide than men? Analysis of lifetime suicide attempts among US adults in a nationally representative sample. J Affect Disord. 2022 Aug 15;311:157-164. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2022.05.096. Epub 2022 May 19. PMID: 35598742, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35598742.
  • Sagar-Ouriaghli I, Godfrey E, Bridge L, Meade L, Brown JSL. Improving Mental Health Service Utilization Among Men: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of Behavior Change Techniques Within Interventions Targeting Help-Seeking. Am J Mens Health. 2019 May-Jun;13(3):1557988319857009. doi: 10.1177/1557988319857009. PMID: 31184251; PMCID: PMC6560805, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6560805.
  • Khan N, Kausar R, Khalid A, Farooq A. Gender differences among discrimination & stigma experienced by depressive patients in Pakistan. Pak J Med Sci. 2015 Nov-Dec;31(6):1432-6. doi: 10.12669/pjms.316.8454. PMID: 26870110; PMCID: PMC4744295, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4744295.
  • Thunander Sundbom L, Bingefors K, Hedborg K, Isacson D. Are men under-treated and women over-treated with antidepressants? Findings from a cross-sectional survey in Sweden. BJPsych Bull. 2017 Jun;41(3):145-150. doi: 10.1192/pb.bp.116.054270. PMID: 28584650; PMCID: PMC5451647, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5451647.
  • Aron Tendler, Stephan Goerigk, Samuel Zibman, Salomé Ouaknine, Tal Harmelech, Gaby S Pell, Abraham Zangen, Steven A. Harvey, Geoffrey Grammer, Jimmy Stehberg, Oluremi Adefolarin, Owen Muir, Carlene MacMillan, Diana Ghelber, Walter Duffy, Irakli Mania, Zeeshan Faruqui, Faisal Munasifi, Todd Antin, Frank Padberg, Yiftach Roth, Deep TMS H1 Coil treatment for depression: Results from a large post marketing data analysis, Psychiatry Research, Volume 324, 2023, 115179, ISSN 0165-1781, doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2023.115179.
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