Mental Health Hazards of Women in Mid-Life

Dec 10, 2013
[h=3]Mental Health Issues of Women[/h] Some mental health conditions occur more often in women and can play a significant role in the state of a woman's overall health. While men experience higher rates of autism, early onset schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder, and alcoholism, mental health conditions more common in women include the following. [/FONT]
[h=3]Stress[/h] Look around. One of ten people you see at work, at the store, and wherever you go in your daily life is over stressed at any given moment. Scientists agree that stress causes actual chemical changes in the brain, and these changes can influence the state of your health. [/FONT]
[h=3]Menopause and Mental Health [/h] A popular myth pictures the menopausal woman shifting from raging, angry moods into depressive, doleful slumps with no apparent reason or warning. However, a study by psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh suggests that menopause does not cause unpredictable mood swings, depression, or even stress in most women. [/FONT]
[h=3]Depression [/h] More women than men experience depression. One in four women will require treatment for depression at some time, compared with one in 10 men. The reasons for this are unclear, but are thought to include social factors such as poverty and isolation and biological factors such as the hormonal changes experienced by women. Post-natal depression is believed to affect between eight and 15% of women after they have given birth. Women are twice as likely as men (12 percent of women compared to 6 percent of men) to get depression. [/FONT]
[h=3]Anxiety and specific phobias [/h] Although men and women are affected equally by such mental health conditions as obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobias, women are twice as likely as men to have panic disorder, generalized anxiety, and specific phobias. [/FONT]
[h=3]Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) [/h] Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD following a traumatic event. [/FONT]
[h=3]Suicide attempts [/h] Men die from suicide at four times the rate that women do, but women attempt suicide two or three times more often than men. [/FONT]
[h=3]Eating disorders [/h] Women account for at least 85 percent of all anorexia and bulimia cases and 65 percent of binge-eating disorder cases. [/FONT]
Even when men and women share a common mental health diagnosis, the symptoms, and subsequently the treatment, can be different. For example, a man who is depressed is likely to report job-related problems, while a woman is more likely to report physical issues, like fatigue or appetite and sleep disturbances. Unlike their depressed male counterparts, women tend to develop problems with alcohol abuse within a few years of the onset of depression. Women are more likely to use religious and emotional outlets to offset the symptoms of depression compared to men, who often find relief through sports and other hobbies. [/FONT]
What goes on in the female brain and body to differentiate these responses to mental illness? The answers may lie in: [/FONT]
[h=3]Biological influences[/h] Female hormonal fluctuations are known to play a role in mood and depression. The hormone estrogen can have positive effects on the brain, protecting schizophrenic women from severe symptoms during certain phases of their menstrual cycles and maintaining the structure of neurons in the brain, which protects against some aspects of Alzheimer’s. On the less positive side, women tend to produce less of the mood stabilizer serotonin and synthesize it more slowly than men, which may account for the higher rates of depression. A woman’s genetic makeup is also believed to play a role in the development of such neurological disorders as Alzheimer’s. [/FONT]
[h=3]Socio-cultural influences[/h] Despite strides in gender equality, women still face challenges when it comes to socio-economic power, status, position, and dependence, which can contribute to depression and other disorders. Women are still the primary caregivers for children, and it is estimated that they also provide 80 percent of all caregiving for chronically ill elders, which adds stress to a woman’s life. [/FONT]
As more research comes to light and there is greater understanding of women’s mental health issues, experts are hopeful that targeted treatments will bring better results and more positive outcomes for women with mental health conditions. [/FONT]

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