Women, Gender and Mental Health

Women are more likely than men to suffer from poor mental health as a result of social and economic factors. 

One in every five women had a mental health problem, compared to one in every eight men.

There has been a steady increase in the number of women experiencing mental health difficulties, with young women being especially vulnerable. One in every five women aged 16 to 25 reported recently self-harming, and suicide rates in women were at their highest in a decade.

A variety of factors influence women's mental health:

•    Women are more likely than men to be the primary caregivers for their children, and they may also care for elderly or disabled relatives. Women caregivers are more likely than other women to suffer from anxiety and depression.

•    Women are more likely than men to be poor.

•    Poverty, working primarily at home, and concerns about personal safety can all contribute to women feeling isolated. Social isolation has been linked to mental health issues.

•    Physical and sexual abuse can have a long-term impact on women's mental health, especially if no support is provided. Because women are subjected to more sexual violence than men, they are more likely to suffer from PTSD.

•    One in every four women suffers from depression, compared to one in every ten men. It is unclear why this is the case, but factors such as poverty, isolation, and hormonal changes are likely to play a role.

•    Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety disorders. Women account for roughly 60% of those suffering from phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder. Phobias affect approximately 22 out of every 1,000 women in the UK, compared to 13 out of every 1,000 men.

•    Women account for two-thirds of dementia patients. The risk of dementia rises with age, and women live longer lives than men.

•    Eating disorders are more common in women than in men, with young women being the most vulnerable. Anorexia affects 1.9 % of women and 0.2 % of men each year. Bulimia affects between 0.5 and 1%of young women at any given time.

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