This consideration then begs the question, “just what are the gender specific different factors that determine mental health or the susceptibility to mental illness?” We have already suggested that many factors are not purely biological, and a number of different papers point to the fact that many of the triggers and stressor factors which can be associated with mental illness, are also gender specific.(Moynihan C 1998) We can cite specific examples in this regard.
(Kaplan HI et al 1991) It is also a demonstrable fact that the degree of morbidity rises exponentially with multiple degrees of comorbidity.
In studies on the subject, women outnumber men in this area as well.
This particular disease process is statistically the most common mental health problem that affects women, but it also tends to be more persistent in women both in terms of longevity of the episode and in frequency of relapse.
(APA 1994) Gender differences are also apparent when it comes to a consideration of substance abuse, however it is usual to find the reverse ratio in most studies on the subject.
Castle (et al 2001) spend a large proportion of their book differentiating the male and female brain in terms of the effect of testosterone on neurodevelopment.
While this is undeniably a source of difference, it would appear that their argument rather falls apart when other authors point to the fact that the differences that we are considering here are actually better correlated with both gender and culture than actual biological sex.Women and mental health is a vast topic and we do not presume to cover all aspects of it within the confines of this essay.We will, however, explore a number of relevant themes in some detail by particular reference to peer reviewed literature on the subject.We have already alluded to the fact that the rates of diagnosis by the healthcare professionals tend to underestimate the true incidence of psychiatric morbidity in the community.It is likely that the healthcare professional can also skew the results in a different way.This factor is probably important in the fact that women have the highest incidence of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).(Jewkes R 2002) There is still a gender gap in the earnings tables, both in total lifetime earnings and also in average earning levels.This implies that women tend to be less financially independent and more socio-economically deprived (on average) that males.(Davies TW 1994) All of these factors, when considered collectively, appear to exert a significant influence on the overall patterns of gender specific distribution of psychiatric morbidity in the community at large.These factors are generally exacerbated (and the gender differences accentuated), when there are sudden and unpredicted fluctuations in the general income level or the stability of the social strata.(Murray M 1995).It has been suggested that only 40% of people with a significant mood, anxiety or substance misuse problem will actually seek help in the first year of the problem becoming apparent.(Boswell G & Poland F 2004) In the context of this essay we should note that, in broad terms, the overall rates of psychiatric disorder are approximately equal in both men and women, but the significant differences between the sexes are found in the patterns of how the disorders manifest themselves.