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A Spotlight on Mental Health for Women

Good mental health is essential to overall well-being. More than 1 in 5 women in the United States experienced a mental health condition in the past year, such as depression or anxiety.1 Many mental health conditions, such as depression and bipolar disorder, affect more women than men or affect women in different ways from men.2,3 Most serious mental health conditions cannot be cured. But they can be treated, so you can get better and live well.4

Warning Signs

Women and men can develop most of the same mental disorders and conditions but may experience different symptoms. Some symptoms include:

  • Persistent sadness or feelings of hopelessness

  • Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs

  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits

  • Appetite and/or weight changes

  • Decreased energy or fatigue

  • Excessive fear or worry

  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there

  • Extremely high and low moods

  • Aches, headaches, or digestive problems without a clear cause

  • Irritability

  • Social withdrawal

  • Suicidal thoughts

Risk Factors for Mental Health Problems in Women

Women disproportionately experience the following risk factors for common mental disorders than men.

  • Women earn less than men. Women who are full-time workers earn about one-fourth less than their male counterparts in a given year.

  • The poverty rate for women aged 18 to 64 is 14.2% compared with 10.5% for men. For women aged 65 and older, the poverty rate is 10.3%, while the poverty rate for men aged 65 and older is 7.0%.

  • Victims of violence: About 1 in 3 women have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

  • An estimated 65% of caregivers are women. Female caregivers may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than male caregivers.

Barriers to Accessing Mental Health Care Services Among Women

Key barriers to mental health treatment for women:

  • Economic barriers – lack of insurance/cost (including premiums and copays)

  • Lack of awareness about mental health issues, treatment options, and available services

  • The stigma associated with mental illness

  • Lack of time/related support (time off work, child care, transportation)

  • Lack of appropriate intervention strategies including the integration of mental health and primary health care services

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