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Everything you need to know about women’s mental health challenges

March 28, 2024

Everything you need to know about women’s mental health challenges


Everything you need to know about women’s mental health challenges

In 2011, Beyoncé empowered us with the anthem “Who run the world? Girls!”. But there may be something else silently running the show in the background: unaddressed women’s mental health issues.

Mental health disorders of course affect all humans, but women face particular challenges due to both societal and biological factors. The research makes this clear, yet it’s too often overlooked, leading to inadequate support and festering challenges that then dictate women’s choices, influence their behaviors, and hinder their potential to truly flourish.

Though it may not be the most cheerful way to wrap up Women’s History Month, it is essential to recognize these differences to make a change for the better. What are the most common women’s mental health challenges? How can you help any struggling loved ones overcome them? Let’s dive into the research and available solutions.

Understanding women’s mental health challenges: common contributing factors

Both men and women experience mental health challenges in general roughly equally. However, it’s essential to recognize that the causes of these challenges, including their manifestation, can significantly differ. Here are some factors that disproportionately impact women’s mental health and well-being: 

  • Caregiving responsibilities: Women bear a significant burden as caregivers, with an estimated 65% of caregivers being female. This responsibility, often unpaid, can hinder access to mental health services due to financial constraints or time limitations. Additionally, caregiving can put a significant strain on the caregiver’s physical, mental, and financial well-being. 
  • Poverty: Women are more likely to live in poverty compared to men, making it harder for them to access treatment. A study found one in four women reported postponing or missing necessary care due to financial constraints.
  • Time off work: Research shows more women than men need leave from work. Yet they are less likely have these needs met. A study found nearly one in four women could not access needed care because they couldn’t take the time off work.
  • Type of work: Women are more likely to do unpaid, low-paid, or insecure work, which can cause significant fatigue and stress. They are also more likely to have pre-existing difficulties with debt and bills. This can be further exacerbated by worsened economic and social conditions such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Sexual abuse:  83% of victims of sexual assault in 2014 were female, with 1 in 5 women experiencing it compared to 1 in 20 men. Studies show that 94% of women who are sexually assaulted develop PTSD symptoms.
  • Stigma: Some findings suggest women experience stigma more strongly than men. For example, they wait 4 times longer to seek treatment after PTSD symptoms arise. We must also recognize particular stigma challenges for certain populations of women. John Hopkins Medicine reports that Black American women are only half as likely as Caucasian women to ask for help from a mental health professional. Read more about stigma specific to the Black American community in our article from last month

Social bias in women’s mental health diagnoses

Although science aims to be as objective as possible, it is not always perfect — and still subject to biases.

For example, borderline personality disorder has long been thought to be predominantly a women’s mental health challenge. Now, current research shows that it affects men and women about equally. However, due to past belief it can still be overdiagnosed in women and underdiagnosed in men. 

Psychologist Alan E. Fruzzetti illustrates how bias like this can be formed: if we describe one child pounding on a desk, and another child constantly tapping, people tend to assume the first child is a boy and the second a girl — and react to these behaviors differently based on the person’s gender. This shows how gender stereotypes affect whether certain behaviors are deemed acceptable or troublesome, which can also influence whether the person receives compassionate care (or any at all).

That’s why it’s important to approach mental health challenges with a wholesome perspective, considering each individual’s unique circumstances and story, regardless of societal stereotypes or expectations. 

This is exactly the approach we take at RevCore. Our commitment to understanding the whole person — not just their symptoms — guides our tailored treatment plans, ensuring that women receive the care and support they need to navigate their mental health journey.

Mental health challenges more common to women

Some mental health disorders affect everyone, but are much more prevalent among women. Here are some of the main ones.

  • Depression and anxiety: Both these issues are nearly twice as prevalent in women than in men. Some causes could be hormonal changes and lower testosterone levels, societal pressures, and traumatic experiences.
  • Eating disorders: Women are 3x more likely to develop anorexia or bulimia and nearly 2x more likely to develop binge eating disorder compared to men. This is possibly due to unrealistic beauty standards.
  • Substance abuse: Women who struggle with substance abuse tend to progress faster towards dependency. They also face greater challenges in recovery compared to men.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Despite the most common associations with men and war, women are twice as likely to experience PTSD than men. This is often a result of sexual assault.
  • Bipolar II disorder: Though bipolar I disorder affects men and women equally, women are more likely to develop bipolar II disorder symptoms. This includes rapid cycling between mania and depression.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women. Women also make up the majority of caregivers for those with the condition, leading to stress and burnout.
  • Suicide attempts: Though men are more likely to die by suicide, women are more likely to attempt it. This can lead to lifelong complications even if the attempt is unsuccessful.

It is crucial to recognize these gender disparities in mental health and provide tailored support and resources to help women cope with, and ideally prevent their particular challenges. 

Mental health challenges unique to women

Other mental health challenges are unique to women, due to particular hormone changes. The main ones include:

  • During menstruation (premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder)
  • During or after pregnancy (perinatal depression)
  • During menopause (depression, mood swings)

Finding compassionate care for women’s mental health: RevCore Women’s Program

If there is a silver lining to the findings we have explored, it’s that women seem to be more likely to seek mental health care than men. And fortunately, you have at your fingertips an excellent resource for mental health care services tailored specifically to women’s needs. 

We at RevCore always look at the whole individual, not just their symptoms. We consider their personal circumstances and story to provide tailored and compassionate mental health support

One result of this commitment is our ongoing RevCore Women’s Program. Created by women, for women, it is led by dedicated professionals across all RevCore locations. Clients who join can expect to find a compassionate, comprehensive resource designed specifically for women’s mental health, including everything from emotional support to practical solutions. 

If you are interested in joining or know a woman who could benefit from this program, please reach out at (212) 966-9537 or info@revcorerecovery.com

Here are some particular initiatives for women we’d like to highlight, both inside and outside the RevCore Women’s Program:

Self-image treatment in the digital era

As our daily lives submerge deeper and deeper into the online sphere, we see a lot of women struggling with their self-image as a result. The perfect filters, the curated feeds, the highlight reels — it’s like they’re all there to remind you that you’re not enough and that you’re always behind everyone else, even though the reality is different. 

RevCore is tackling these issues head on to provide a supportive space for empowerment, self-acceptance, and trauma recovery for any women struggling with their self-image in the digital era. All clients are welcome to join at any time. Simply coordinate with your primary RevCore clinician, or reach out at (212) 966-9537 or info@revcorerecovery.com to become a client.

Pillars: compassionate substance use disorder recovery

Though not directly a part of our Women’s Program, RevCore also connects women with a substance use disorder recovery program tailored specifically to women’s unique experiences and struggles during recovery. Headed by Dr. Felicia Pullen, the Pillars program takes a holistic approach to substance use disorder recovery, from self-care to community engagement. Read more about this innovative substance use disorder recovery program here

Support groups and referrals for women’s mental health 

Need something that’s not currently in RevCore’s service offer? Although we boast a wide range of comprehensive services personalized to each patient, we will always conduct a fair assessment that puts the individual’s well-being above all else. If a patient is in need of a service that we are not able to provide, we will connect them with someone who can — whether it’s care for substance use during pregnancy, or community-based support. Simply reach out at (212) 966-9537 or info@revcorerecovery.com for a diagnosis and referral.

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