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Women’s Empowerment and the Impact on Mental Health

Women’s empowerment advocates and advances the goal of improving women’s rights, self-worth, and independence. The idea behind women’s empowerment within the context of mental well-being is to bring attention to women’s health issues that have faced a history of misconceptions and lack of understanding.

As mental health begins to get more recognition, it is essential to remember that women experience several unique mental health difficulties and challenges. The following sections highlight how women experience mental health disorders and conditions differently from men, as well as some of the unique mental illnesses that some women may experience.

Unique Mental Health Struggles that Women Face

The distinctions that can be drawn between different sexes and genders are essential to understanding the unique mental health challenges different individuals face. 

Biological differences between sexes, as well as the different societal roles and expectations amongst different genders, all impact how people experience mental disorders.

Disorders Found More Commonly in Women 

While men and women both can experience mental health disorders, women are more likely to develop a mental illness in general. In a 2020 study, it was found that almost 30% of women had a mental illness compared to 20% of men.

Some mental illnesses occur more commonly in women than in men. Anxiety, depression, and eating disorders are all more commonly found in women. 

In the 1980s, Borderline personality disorder (BPD) was considered a disorder specific to women. Even today, BPD is significantly found more commonly in women than in men, with around 75% of people diagnosed with BPD being women.

According to a study conducted in the early 2000s, one theory for why women are more likely to have these disorders than men is that women tend to meditate and focus internally on their problems rather than engaging in problem-solving that is more active.

A reason why women may internalize their struggles, especially at a young age, is because they fear social ostracization and judgment, especially when social norms place so much emphasis on the outward appearance of women and how women present themselves.

Disorders that Present Differently in Women

Many mental conditions present differently in women and give rise to different or more severe symptoms in women. 

  • ADHD: In individuals diagnosed with ADHD, men tend to display more hyperactive symptoms, while women are more likely to be inattentive. Because of this, a woman with ADHD is less likely to be diagnosed in her youth or adolescence than a man with the same disorder since ADHD symptoms in women tend to be less noticeable.
  • Depression: While women are more likely to seek treatment for depression than men, research has shown that women experience depression nearly twice as much as men do. Additionally, depression is the most common mental illness experienced by women.
  • Anxiety: Women are twice as likely to have experience with a generalized anxiety or panic disorder diagnosis than men. Anxiety is widespread in young women and adolescent girls. This is due to hormonal fluctuations that young people experience as they undergo puberty. Research additionally suggests that testosterone alleviates anxiety symptoms, and women tend to have less testosterone than men.
  • Eating Disorders: Like anxiety and depression, eating disorders are found more commonly in adolescents and young women, partially because as a younger woman’s body begins to change and grow as a result of maturing, body anxiety and dysmorphia can often follow. Another reason women experience eating disorders at higher rates than men and why an eating disorder may persist past adolescence can be attributed to the persistent flow of beauty standards that can be observed across virtually every social media platform.

Women understand what is expected outside social media through television, films, and beauty standards within their family unit and culture. Women often begin to realize at young ages what is considered beautiful and what isn’t and how they are expected to fit within that role.

Mental Illnesses and Conditions Experienced Solely by Women

Some mental disorders and conditions are unique to women due to biological and hormonal differences.

  • Perinatal Depression: Perinatal depression is an umbrella term used to encompass disorders associated with childbirth, including prenatal depression, which occurs during pregnancy, and postpartum depression, which occurs in the week following birth. These disorders are not known to have a single cause but are considered to be the result of a confluence of factors, such as environmental, genetic, and hormonal factors. Symptoms include being in an extreme depressive state and feelings of frustration, worthlessness, fatigue, and persistent feelings of worry and anxiety.

  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorders (PMDD): This disorder is considered to be a very extreme version of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) disorder that affects between 5-8% of women. PMDD can make it exceptionally difficult for women to function normally in social, school, and work environments. PMDD can be so invasive due to some physical and emotional symptoms, including intense mood swings, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and feelings of being overwhelmed and at a loss of control.

  • Perimenopause Related Depression: Menopause occurs when an individual’s ovaries decrease the production of certain hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, leading to symptoms such as irritability, difficulty sleeping, and hot flashes. 

While menopause is a natural and inevitable event for anyone with ovaries, it can lead to more severe symptoms in some women, including perimenopause-related depression, which can be especially difficult for women who are experiencing other heightened symptoms common during menopause.

women’s empowerment

How Women’s Empowerment Can Help Women Struggling with Mental Health Issues

Women often experience mental health differently from men. Because of this, it can be difficult for women to obtain empathy and understanding from men, even if they have the same mental illness.

Empowering women to speak up about their issues can give awareness and comfort to women who previously thought they were alone. Not understanding the cause of why you’re feeling specific symptoms can lead to worsened feelings of loneliness and anxiety.

As our world becomes more globalized, it’s easier than ever to hop on the internet and ask Google questions about why you’re experiencing negative symptoms and feelings. There are several great resources and forums that you can access if you’re experiencing an issue or concern that is unique to the female experience:

  • Women’s Health Subreddit: This subreddit or internet community contains useful threads that may include the answer to your question or concern. You can ask the community questions, seek advice, or use the space to vent about an issue you have that is a unique women’s health issue. The forum contains rules and guidelines to promote women’s safety and discussion. Additionally, the forum includes a list of other subreddits that may be useful to women experiencing more specific issues.

  • Speaking of Women’s Health: This resource is a Cleveland Clinic Center for Specialized Women’s Health program designed to act as an educational tool and resource for women experiencing various health concerns. Speaking of Women’s Health aims to provide helpful and credible information for women experiencing multiple health issues.
  • The Mighty: This website contains information about groups for women and people of all backgrounds experiencing many issues. For example, there are groups created for women struggling with chronic illness, adapting to ADHD, and more.

Find the Support You Deserve

At the Summit Wellness Group, we provide luxurious facilities to our patients seeking treatment and care for drug and alcohol addictions, as well as dual-diagnosis care. Contact us via our website, call us at (770) 609-1899, or email us at contactus@thesummitwellnessgroup.com to learn more about our programming and to start getting help today.

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