Mental illness affects women and men differently. It is estimated that between one and three American citizens struggles with mental illness, but that this rate is significantly higher amongst women. Women are especially prone to certain mental disorders, and some disorders will present themselves differently in women than in men. Some of the mental disorders that women tend to experience the most frequently include:
Mental Illness in Women
It has been shown that significantly more women are officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder than men. Women who suffer from this specific disorder may go for an extended period of time without being properly diagnosed, attributing their constant up-and-down mood swings with hormonal imbalance or ‘inconsistent female emotions’.
- Borderline Personality Disorder
Again, more women than men are diagnosed with BPD (borderline personality disorder). The characteristic impulsivity and instability of this disorder are often attributed to drug abuse – thus many cases go undiagnosed until sobriety is obtained. Borderline Personality Disorder very frequently goes hand-in-hand with substance abuse and dependency.
- ADD and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
Men are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD more frequently than women, though women have been shown to suffer from this disorder just as often as men. Unfortunately, many women suffering from ADD are misdiagnosed. Women tend to be diagnosed with more emotionally-based disorders (such as depression or anxiety), and the underlying disorder is often overlooked.
Many women suffer from anxiety disorders, and seeing as stress is a major predictor of mental illness, this may be due to the fact that women experience significantly more traumatic experience than men. Depression and anxiety are the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses amongst women.
Women are 40% more likely to suffer from depression than men. While it is suggested that hormonal differences play a small role in this disparity, it is also likely that some women develop depressive disorders after experiencing significant traumatic events.
This is a mental disorder specific to women – new mothers in particular. The stresses of new motherhood can be too much for some to emotionally handle, especially those who are simultaneously dealing with a combination of underlying disorders. Women suffering from postpartum depression will very frequently turn to drugs and alcohol as a method of coping.
While eating disorders do affect both men and women, they are exceedingly more common amongst women. Cultural issues compound feelings of negative self-worth and body image, and lead many women to feel as if extreme dieting is the only way to be socially accepted. Unfortunately, many diets take on minds of their own, and life-threatening eating disorders develop over time.
Women are more frequently diagnosed with schizophrenia than men, if only slightly. Many women who suffer from schizophrenia and addictive disorders will not be adequately treated until they have maintained a period of sobriety.
Treatment for Mental Disorders in Women
The vast majority of women who suffer from a mental illness concurrently suffer from a severe substance dependency issue. In many cases, this relation results from a lack of professional treatment and a need to self-medicate unaddressed symptoms. The first step to recovering from both issues is seeking professional help. We at Willow Place for Women have extensive experience dealing with women who struggle with addiction and underlying mental disorders. For more information on our program of recovery, please feel free to give us a call today. Recovery is possible!