Do Women Really Suffer More From Mental Illness Than Men?

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According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, mental illness is experienced equally by men and women.  A Time Magazine article would like to challenge that idea.

…this is inaccurate. When you take a detailed look at the international epidemiological data, as we did when writing The Stressed Sex, the picture that emerges is very different – and pretty shocking. It turns out that in any given year total rates of psychological disorder are 20-40% higher in women than men.

The theory behind why the international epidemiological data points in this direction:

What we do know is that social stresses make people vulnerable to mental illness, and research indicates that women’s roles may be especially demanding.Considering that on the whole women are paid less, find it harder to advance in a career, have to juggle multiple roles, and are bombarded with images of apparent female “perfection”, it would be amazing if there wasn’t some emotional cost. Women are also, of course, much more likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse, a trauma that all too often results in lasting psychological damage.

It is an interesting proposition, but I’m inclined not to dismiss WHO’s figures so quickly.

Read more here.

9 thoughts on “Do Women Really Suffer More From Mental Illness Than Men?

    lionaroundwriting said:
    July 22, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    I agree.

    Smells like a sensationalist bullshit article.

    Anyone who knows their mental health, knows that men do not report their troubles, do not got to doctors and women tend to have no problem doing so as it is acceptable for women to feel poorly whereas guys try and ride the wave for fear of stigma and coming across less macho.

      ManicMuses responded:
      July 22, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      Right-o. Personally, in my highly non-scientific poll of those I know with mental illness, there is an equal number of men and women. Like you said, though. Females are more likely to ask for help – with anything – especially directions! :)

    Tallulah "Lulu" Stark said:
    July 22, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    That is some really interesting stuff. I’ve never thought of it that way, and it makes perfect sense. I always figured that women are more likely to take care of their mental health, just as they take care of their physical health. A study was done about married vs. single men. They discovered that a married man has a longer life expectancy. They figure there is a correlation between women living healthier lifestyles and imparting them upon their husbands.

    But, there is another social factor to consider. Most men in our modern society have been taught that being strong is never admitting that they need help. It’s about projecting this stoicism and dealing with their own problems privately, because they aren’t supposed to have those feelings or issues. It’s a really sad thing, and I wish more men would discard it. A man can still be man, even if he does need a little extra care.

    Ej Braquet said:
    July 22, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    AS a male with BP who fights to want to accept; I wonder just how many males suffer in silence and go uncounted thus skewing any census that may be taken. No matter what the bottom line is the need for more research dollars dedicated to mental illness when it plays such a huge contributor to deaths each year.

    DeeDee said:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    I’m inclined to believe that women’s natural hormonal cycling is still misdiagnosed as mental illness in far greater numbers than anyone wants to believe. I see a lot of people reporting PMS/PMDD symptoms with other labels and suffering from treatments that won’t ever help.

    But as far as the “oh poor women have it so hard” argument, while there’s some truth to it, let’s stop being “oh poor women” about the fact that we’re CHOOSING to overburden ourselves at much higher rates than historically. We are society, so we are the ones telling ourselves and one another that we have to be perfect women or whatever the hell. We (being anyone with a brain) didn’t train or stand up for ourselves or our comrades to say, “those are reasonable expectations.” NO. We say, as a whole, “we like it when you pay attention to us and we’ll do anything to be validated.”

    Well, screw that.

    Oops. Seems I’m a bit ranty today…

      DeeDee said:
      July 23, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      Argh. I meant, “those are UNreasonable expectations.”

    Sandy Sue said:
    July 23, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    I’m onboard with everyone here (and DeeDee, I’ll fist-bump that rant). The other piece I wonder about is if men report their childhood sexual abuse. This seems like one more thing to keep hidden.

    bpshielsy said:
    July 23, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    I’d tend to air on the side, of both genders suffering equally. The larger number of men who tend to commit suicide in their twenties & thirties only reinforces the view they suffer in silence, as its the done thing.

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