When it comes to some mental health conditions, particularly
anxiety, it matters whether you’re male or female.
Women are almost twice as likely to experience anxiety as
men, says a 2016 University of Cambridge review of studies.
Biology can explain only some of the differences.
Hormonal changes across a woman’s life – during puberty, the
menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause - have been linked to anxiety. Women
also tend to be more prone to stress and to have different coping mechanisms
than men. They are more likely to spend more time thinking about life
stressors, which can increase anxiety, while men tend to engage more in active,
But there are certain life events that can particularly
affect women. Beyond Blue and Jean Hailes have identified a number of factors
that can impact women’s mental health, including:
- Caring for others. Women do most
of the caregiving, whether for a partner, elderly parents, and/or children.
While it can be a very positive experience for many, caring can affect your
physical and mental health, financial security and independence, particularly
if caring for people who are ill, frail or with a disability.
- Infertility and miscarriage. The grief
and loss of infertility and miscarriage can be devastating for women and is
often experienced privately, which can further impact mental health.
- Pregnancy, having a baby and
becoming a mother. For some women, adjusting to the major life change and challenges
of early motherhood leaves them more likely to experience depression and
- Menopause. Hormone changes in the
years leading to menopause can contribute to depression and anxiety. The
physical changes of menopause – hot flushes, night sweats, interrupted sleep
and weight gain – can also impact mental health.
- Relationships. Conflict at home,
particularly physical and mental abuse, can cause great fear and anxiety. Women
who are separated, divorced or widowed are more likely to experience mental
health issues such as depression and anxiety. As well as feelings of loss and
grief, the end of a relationship can affect financial security, social
connections, housing and relationships with children.
- Money worries. Stress over money
is common and can affect your mental wellbeing. According to a recent BlackRock
study focusing on the relationship between wealth and wellbeing, money is a top
worry amongst the 27,000 people they asked worldwide. In many of these cases,
women indicated that finances caused higher levels of stress than men did.