Women are Twice as Likely to Develop Anxiety, According to Study
In recent years, mental health has been increasingly acknowledged by medical professionals and the public alike. Leaps and bounds in both diagnosis and definitions have been made, and awareness of the issues surrounding mental illnesses are (thankfully) on the rise. We're learning more about susceptibility, risk factors and statistics every day.
Take one particular study by National Statistics in the UK for example, which examines the differences between genders when it comes to various mental health conditions. The results were shocking to say the least, with women found to be twice as likely to develop anxiety-related conditions and men being vastly more likely to develop alcohol and drug-related addictions.
Better or Worse?
The study hesitated to draw decisive conclusions about why these particular differences in mental health exist across genders, but it certainly provides a strong foundation for opening up discussion on the subject. It found that one in four women will experience depression compared to one in ten men and that up to 15% of women will experience post-natal depression. These stats serve to highlight the importance of recognising mental illness as a legitimate health issue that perhaps affects more people than we realise.
The results of the study also revealed that eating disorders are more common in women, as is PTSD. However, men are far more likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts across the board. Why? Some have theorised that despite the myriad of potential mental and emotional traumas women may face, they are in fact more equipped to cope with them. In general, women tend to have stronger, closer social ties than men in most societies, as well as a higher emotional literacy. In short it seems to be more acceptable for women to exercise their emotions and work through them, as they adapt to improve their emotional well-being. That said, perhaps this is required only as a result of society's influence on gender. It's quite the paradox.
This very same issue may be throwing off the results of the study in the first place. If women are more likely to discuss their mental health, they're more likely to receive diagnosis and treatment, whereas men may internalise and deal with such issues alone. Should this be the case, it's no wonder the official numbers are skewed, as fewer men would be officially counted, yet may still be suffering.
Treatment and Resources
There are plenty of ways we can all help ourselves and those around us when it comes to mental health. Numerous charities exist that can provide therapy, help and care as well as various support groups that have been set up, to help folks feel less alone. Your local GP is far more likely to be trained in mental health treatment today than they were twenty years ago, and your best mate is far less likely to scoff if you're having a hard time (thanks to studies like the one above). It all starts with a conversation.
The Internet can be particularly helpful, with online support guides and social activities. Everyone has their own preferences and coping methods can be as simple as signing up to exercise classes, joining a chess club, attending cathartic psychic readings, or maybe even visiting your local church. Human beings are social by nature and communities help us all feel less alone. There are many professional treatments for mental health these days, therapeutic and medical, but becoming a part of something and finding a healthy life balance is key. We're stronger together.
Into the Future
As time goes on, we can only hope that awareness and the treatment of mental health improves. The percentage of men and women being diagnosed may even shift as a result. It won't happen overnight; it needs to be implemented on a global scale and mental health in the West is very different to other parts of the world, for example. We'll come to understand it on study at a time, and better equip the next generation to deal with such issues in healthier ways.