Women' Mental Health – Our Future Direction

Nor Zuraida Z

Abstract


Globally women's mental health issues have been emphasized since many decades ago. World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted the importance of justice and equality in term of social context related to gender in order to achieve good mental well-being.

Gender differences in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders have been recognized long ago where women commonly exceeds the men for a number of psychiatric illnesses (1). Women are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, somatic problems and being victims of sexual or physical violence. At least 1 in 5 women suffer rape in their lifetime but the rate differ from various country (2).

Much work has been done to look into the general well-being and psychological distress in women as well as to understand the reason for women become more vulnerable to stress as compared to men. Multiple factors such as biological determinants and psychosocial issues have been found to be correlated to depression. Women with chronic major depression tend to have a younger age at the onset of her illness, a more extensive family history of mood disorder, poorer social adjustment, and poorer quality of life compared to chronically depressed men (3).

Women are also known to be more likely to seek help for their mental health problem from primary care physician. Furthermore, across socio-economic levels many women nowdays are doing multiple roles in the society. They are not only wives and mothers in their family, but women also go out to earn for living. Some women are holding a higher position at workplace or in any organization. These multitasking roles may cause stress to women especially if she has to handle family-work or work-family conflicts.

Biological differences related to gender have been increasingly explored. Differences exist in brain anatomy and that male and female reproductive hormones i.e. estrogen and progesterone produce psychoactive effects (4). Estrogen’s antidopaminergic (5) and serotonin-enhancing (6) effects may play a role in psychiatric disorders in women. These are the areas that need more research investigations.

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