Understanding How Mental Health Affects Us By Gender
By Katherine Cruise
Mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety affect men and women differently. Your gender can impact how you experience these disorders: how you react, which symptoms you feel most prominently, and whether or not you seek help.
The statistics are not what you might expect. For example, although the general public tends to associate posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with male war veterans, women are actually twice as likely to experience PTSD.
Also, while nearly twice as many women as men experience depression, depressed men are less likely to seek help. Men are more likely to report irritability and loss of interest in daily activities than feelings of hopelessness and despair, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Lingering stigmas that associate mental health disorders with weakness can also prevent men from seeking professional help. Men are also more likely to report the physical symptoms of depression – headaches, fatigue – to a primary care physician than to visit a mental health professional.
If you’re concerned that you may be affected by any of these disorders – depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder or generalized anxiety disorder – you can take an anonymous self-assessment online. The self-assessments are a brief series of questions that, when linked together, help create a picture of how you are feeling and whether you could benefit from talking to a health professional. After you complete the self-assessment, referral information is provided including services through the Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs.
- Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally.1
- Women are more likely than men to have anxiety disorders and have a greater incidence of panic disorder with agoraphobia.1
- Four times as many men as women die by suicide in the U.S. However, women attempt suicide three times more often than men.2
 American Psychological Association. Monitor on Psychology. Vol. 32, No. 11.
2 American Association of Suicidology Fact Sheet
Katherine Cruise is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Screening for Mental Health.