- Psychological disorders are 20% to 40% more common in women than men
- Investigation found women are increasingly expected to function as carer, homemaker and breadwinner
- Men have higher rates of alcohol, drug and anger problems, according to University of Oxford’s Professor Freeman
23:35 EST, 22 May 2013
04:26 EST, 23 May 2013
Women experience more mental health problems than men due to the stress of juggling many roles, according to a new book.
Professor Daniel Freeman, of the University of Oxford, said the first systematic investigation of national mental health surveys showed psychological disorders are 20 to 40 per cent more common in women than men in any given year.
Stress related to pressure on women to fill many different roles is likely to be a major factor for higher rates of everything from depression to phobias, according to Professor Freeman, a clinical psychologist.
The investigation found that psychological disorders are 20 to 40 per cent more common in women than men
‘The biggest discrepancies occur in conditions for which we know the environment, rather than genes, makes the greatest causal contribution,’ he said.
‘It’s certainly plausible that women experience higher levels of stress because of the demands of their social role.
‘Increasingly, women are expected to function as carer, homemaker, and breadwinner – all while being perfectly shaped and impeccably dressed.
‘Given that domestic work is undervalued, and considering that women tend to be paid less, find it harder to advance in a career, have to juggle multiple roles, and are bombarded with images of apparent female ‘perfection’, it would be surprising if there weren’t some emotional and psychological cost.
‘These are the kind of pressures that can leave women feeling as if they’ve somehow failed; as if they don’t have what it takes to be successful; as if they’ve been left behind. And those kinds of feelings can lead to psychological problems like anxiety and depression.’
Men have higher rates of alcohol, drug and anger problems, according to Professor Freeman
‘The Stressed Sex: Uncovering the Truth about Men, Women, and Mental Health’, published today discloses that women have higher rates of depression, panic disorder, phobias, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders.
Men have higher rates of alcohol, drug and anger problems, according to Professor Freeman and co-author Jason Freeman, a writer and editor.
Professor Freeman is a professor of clinical psychology, a Medical Research Council (MRC) Senior Clinical Fellow, in the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry and an honorary consultant clinical psychologist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.
He said traditionally it has been said that overall rates of mental health problems in men and women are the same ‘but the evidence shows that this is simply not the case’.
‘Overall, in the current environment women are bearing the brunt of mental health problems,’ he said.
‘But let’s be clear, even for problems that are more common in women – such as anxiety and depression – they also afflict very significant numbers of men.
‘So it would be wrong to categorise mental health troubles as essentially a female problem. Rates of mental health problems are too high in both genders.’
According to Mind, the mental health charity, around 300 people out of 1,000 will experience a mental health problem in Britain every year.
Around 230 of these will visit a GP, 102 will be diagnosed with a mental health problem, 24 will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service and six will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals.
While women are more likely to report psychological problems than men, Professor Freeman said this does not explain the overall gender differences.
He acknowledged that the findings are bound to be controversial but said the issue cannot be ignored because psychological disorders account for almost half of all ill-health in under 65s and affect up to nine million adults in the UK.
In fact, Professor Freeman argues that the taboo around gender differences in mental health must be broken in order to tackle disorders more successfully in future.
‘Given the extent of the burden on society and individuals alike, understanding what causes mental health problems, and thus being better placed to prevent and treat it, is vitally important,’ he added.
‘But our ability to do that is going to be hampered if we assume that gender isn’t significant. In fact, it may often be a crucial contributory factor.
‘Men and women are very much from the same planet but they may be breathing air of different qualities. If we ignore the potentially higher rates of psychological problems in women, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to change the situation for the better.’
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Thank you Kathy for your comments regarding single women. It’s such a relief to have the very heavy burden we carry acknowledged! Every time I complain about it to a married person they jump down my throat that they have it sooo much worse. They don’t have a clue. God bless you. I pray that we single women come together to be a shelter and help for one another.
Some have anti depressants to help I know people that have been on several different ones and none have helped. A tablet is just a blanket it will not solve the problem.
in he U.K,
Loss of close family and friends, women no longer helping each other out .
Everyone trying to look after their housework,shopping, children and elderly parents never mind WORK!
I would like to know if they included single women with no kids in their study, I’ve known quite a few single women who exhibit the same mental health issues in their 30s and 40′s.
Toledo, United States,
Shirley the shipmate appears not to know much …”It’s not a state of mind that women do not have the same career advances or are under paid, or have to carry their families, it’s a real problem. It is only the strength of women that prevents statistics like this from being higher. “- Shirley the shipmate, The southern ocean, Australia, 23/5/2013 10:18. What she describes is a result of division of labour which, through the ages evolved with the man’s role outside the home being the primary source of income while the woman’s role indoors was primarily domestic. Women, being more self serving than men, have led over the last 5 decades and more, by demanding more parallel lifestyles at once and by ignoring true history and practicality at same time claiming they did not have equality when in fact there was an equality already, to an unparalleled break up of society. Shirley, your state of mind is flawed. Life is not easier for men either – that is another flaw in your state of mind.
London, United Kingdom,
Division of labour is what empowered human beings so they were able to move out of caves and develop increasingly specialised skills. The family unit based on the couple, man and woman, was the most natural first basic unit of society, and was one of the first structures organised so as to empower by division of labour. Before that nature had already chosen division of roles when it ascribed sexes to each of two varieties of most life forms. In this day and age women seem to think only of themselves, want everything in their lives, expect men to subsidise their wonderful variety of choices, choose not to have men in their lives but to have children, want everything else besides. This on an ongoing basis is destroying the fabric of our society. So, when I read an article like this, I feel to say, “you know what? Life is hard for men and women. Life is so hard we (women) cannot afford to make it unnecessarily harder, and if we do, we (women) must realise it is largely due to our choice.”
London, United Kingdom,
Thank you, and God bless you.
And the life of a single woman can become just overwhelming. Trying to take care of a yard AND do the housework is just too much for anybody, especially if you do it for many years. It can tear your health down. Plus having the feeling of NO support or caring of any kind, is demotivational and disheartening.
Worthington, United States,
what a load of BS.
Totally agree with this. It is tough trying to run a home, be a mum and have to work as well! Being a mother is so undervalued in the UK. Men rarely do any of the housework either. You are only valued in the uk for being young and attractive and having a great career, but your job will never love you back, and age creeps up on us all. As someone who really bought into all those feminists values in the seventies, I feel completely betrayed.
Nah Women are just Mental !
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