Mental Health

Why Are Women More Likely To Develop Mental Illness?

It’s an established fact that when it comes to mental illness, the sexes are very different. While men are more prone to antisocial disorders and substance abuse, women are more likely to be diagnosed with mental illnesses like Depression and Anxiety.

But what is the reason behind this disparity?

Journal of Abnormal Psychology published a report that states the likelihood of mental illness in women is more because they tend to internalize their emotions, resulting in loneliness, anxiety, withdrawal and depression. On the other hand, men tend to externalize their emotions which results in impulsive, coercive and aggressive behaviors.

According to the report, it is the difference in these liabilities to deal with emotions that is responsible for gender differences in the prevalence of mental illness.

A Quick Look At Some Facts


  • Women are more commonly treated for mental health problems, a 29% as compared to 17% in men
  • 1 in 4 women are treated for Depression, as compared to 1 in 10 men
  • Women are twice more likely to be diagnosed with acute anxiety as compared to men
  • According to the Office for National Statistics Psychiatry Morbidity Report of 2001, 60% of the patients diagnosed with OCD and Phobias are women.

Data credit

Please note that if the condition of stress or anxiety is severe, then its best to seek help, which can done via the confort of your home with Online Psychologists.

What Makes Women More Susceptible To Mental Illness?


According to researchers, abuse is a common factor that contributes greatly to women’s mental health. Additionally, a variety of social factors puts women at a great risk of poor mental health.

It is for this particular reason that doctors have now adopted gender-specific treatment plans for mental illness, so that they can address the right root cause.

Several social factors particularly affect women’s mental health more than men. These include:

  1. Women have to juggle many different roles. Most women have full time careers while they also run a household, care for their family and do the major chunk of chores round the house
  2. Women traditionally play the role of care-givers for children and elderly alike. Intensive caring can negatively affect physical and emotional health along with a social life and finances, all of which can contribute towards poor mental health
  3. Conventionally, women work harder and are paid lesser. Their low income jobs lead to dissatisfaction and poor self esteem
  4. Women who do not have a full time career and are confined within their homes most of the time can suffer from isolation and loneliness which can be detrimental to mental health
  5. Women are more commonly the target of sexual and physical abuse which can have a long-term impact on their mental health
  6. Women can find it hard to seek support for internal conflicts in a male dominated societal structure and can sometimes resort to self-harm to find a release

Understanding Mental Illness in Women


WHO reports that women are twice more likely to suffer from mental health problems like eating disorders, anxiety, depression and panic disorders. Also, women are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicides, which is why it is very important to provide gender-specific treatment plans.

It has been seen that women are far more likely to suffer from Clinical Depression. While many doctors believe that hormonal changes in women contribute largely to this fact, considering that 15% of the patients diagnosed suffer from post-natal depression, psycho-social factors cannot be negated.

What is scarier is that 2/3rd of patients diagnosed with Dementia every year are women and are also twice more likely to be affected from Eating Disorders due to negative body image. Around the world, women are more at risk to develop PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) since they are far more exposed to sexual violence.

Psychologists have also reported that women have more often reported physical symptoms associated with mental illness like headaches, nausea, restlessness, fatigue and loss of appetite, when compared to their male counterparts.


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