Why Are Women Dealing With Mental Illness More Than Men?

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iStock_000014320433MediumThe days of “treating hysteria” in women unhappy and disenfranchised by their place in society may be over, but Daniel Freeman says women’s current role in the United States may be a reason more women suffer from mental illness than men.

Since those more sexist days, conversation about the intrinsic differences between men and women has been a very touchy subject, especially when discussing mental health. But, as Freeman says in TIME magazine, empirical data tells us that women are dealing with mental illness at higher rates than men and it is time we acknowledge it.

As Medical Daily explained, men are more likely to develop issues with addiction, but a large and representative sample of the American population called the National Comorbidity Survey Replication found that 9 percent of women reported suffering from depression within the last year, compared to five percent of men. Similarly, close to a quarter of women experienced an anxiety disorder, while only 14 percent of men reported the same issues.

Freeman, who wrote The Stressed Sex: Uncovering the Truth about Men, Women, and Mental Health with his brother Jason, says that overall women are experiencing mental illness at rates 20-40 percent higher than their male counterparts, and there are a few possible reasons.

Daniel suggests that many women are playing stressful roles in society as they often handle lower-paying jobs as well as still being responsible for the lion’s share part of childcare and family responsibilities. It is also very possible women are experiencing higher rates of mental illness because they are statistically more likely to be survivors of childhood sexual abuse, which Freeman calls, “a trauma that leaves lasting psychological damage.”

While some may be offended at any mention of disparities between men’s and women’s mental health, Freeman obviously attempts to be unbiased and is more interesting in stoking these conversations so that we can investigate the true root causes of mental illness as well as making sure there are treatment and support resources available and tailored for those who need them.

“This data isn’t illusory: it shows that huge numbers of people are struggling with psychological problems — and the majority of them are female,” Freeman wrote. “Some would say that men experience just as much mental illness as women; they just don’t admit it. But, the scientific evidence to back up such an assertion simply isn’t there.”

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