Women are disproportionately affected by mental health disorders. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2020, the leading disability for women worldwide will be depression. It is estimated that nearly 70% of women will experience some form of major depressive episode at some time in their lives. Generally, the occurrence of depression for women is twice the rate of that experienced by men. Affecting 10 million women in the United States, depression is a leading mental health disorder for our country.
Further, mental illnesses and mental disorders manifest differently in men and in women. It is important to understand the biological, psychological and social factors affecting mental health within the context of gender differences. While bi-polar disorders occur at similar rates among men and women, the experience of the disorder is different. Women tend to “cycle” between the extremes of the disorder more rapidly than men. Also, while eating disorders can affect men and women of any age, these illnesses occur predominately in women.
According to the Centers for Disease control, women attempt suicide at significantly higher rates than men, estimated to be at a 3:1 ratio. This elevated rate is thought to be attributed to underlying mental illnesses and disorders that are occurring more frequently in women.