Is women's mental health worse?

November 28, 2023

Is women's mental health worse?

There is a common misconception that women are more susceptible to mental health issues. Statistically, PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorders all occur more frequently in women than in men. As a result, women are often perceived as more "vulnerable" to mental health issues than men. But this is a misunderstanding.

In a study, healthcare workers who had worked on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic had their mental health assessed. Women (18.7%) reported more PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorders than men (8.8%). Interestingly, when taken into account the unfair job roles, stress factors related to family and work, the prevalence rate between men and women was equal. In fact, according to US census data, women experience more issues than men such as poverty, low economic mobility, and food and housing instability. Considering this, it's natural that the prevalence of mental disorders in women is higher than in men.

In contrast, there are issues that appear more frequently in men. These are problems with alcohol and drugs. However, this is not because men are reckless and lack restraint. Society is more lenient towards men than women when it comes to issues like alcohol and drug use. Consequently, men are exposed to drinking more frequently than women. As a result, men are more likely to suffer from alcohol use disorder. But, when we corrected for exposure to addictive substances, women also had a high probability of having such problems, just as much as men did.

The key point is simple. It's not that women are weak and men don't need help because they are strong. Everyone needs help. And to understand a person who is mentally struggling, we need to consider the cultural environment and gender to which they belong. Without this, it will be difficult for our society to understand and accept each other in times of struggle.


Mazure CM, Husky MM, Pietrzak RH. Stress as a Risk Factor for Mental Disorders in a Gendered Environment. JAMA Psychiatry. 2023;80(11):1087–1088. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2023.3138

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