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close this bookFact sheet No 248: Women and Mental Health - June 2000 (WHO, 2000, 3 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentBackground
View the documentSignificant mental disorders and problems experienced by women
View the documentMental disorders
View the documentGender differences in mental disorders
View the documentPromoting women’s mental health
View the documentFurther Reading

Mental disorders

Prevalence rates of depression and anxiety disorders as well as psychological distress are higher for women than for men. These findings are consistent across a range of studies undertaken in different countries and settings (Desjarlais et al, 1995). In addition to the higher rates of depression and anxiety, women are much more likely to receive a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder, somatization disorder and panic disorder (Russo, 1990). In contrast men are more likely to receive a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and alcohol abuse/dependency. The gender differences associated with mental disorders are brought out most clearly in the case of depression (Russo, 1990). Data from the World Bank study revealed that depressive disorders accounted for close to 30% of the disability from neuropsychiatric disorders amongst women in developing countries but only 12.6% of that among men. The disparity in rates between men and women tend to be even more pronounced in underserved populations (World Bank, 1993).