Women’s Healthcare Month: Addiction and the Mental Health Gender Gap

Women's Mental Health and Addiction

What is the Gender Gap in Mental Health Care? 

Women are twice as likely to suffer from a mental health disorder than men. This statistic encompasses women from all socioeconomic positions, races, and geographical regions. However, some research finds a connection between women who experience significant gender and wealth inequality and higher rates of mental health conditions. Understanding the reasons for the higher rates of mental health issues affecting women is an important aspect of closing the gender gap with regards to women’s healthcare and addiction treatment. 

 

Co-Occurring Disorders in Women

Co-occurring disorders are mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety which coincide with substance abuse and/or addiction. Research suggests that 40% of people with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) have a Co-occurring Disorder. 

We know that mental health conditions can lead to substance abuse and addiction, as people often use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. But equally, addiction can often precede a mental health condition. For example, in men addiction is more likely to lead to depression rather than the other way around. In women, the opposite is true. For example, women are far more likely to suffer from depression and use drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms, leading to SUD and/or addiction. 

Thus, Co-occurring Disorders are often found to be drivers of SUD and addiction in women. For instance, studies have shown that 6 in 10 women with addiction also have PTSD. Without treatment for mental health, SUD and addiction thrive, creating a vicious cycle in which one condition exacerbates the other. 

Risk Factors for Women

Women are more likely to experience certain types of trauma which can adversely affect their mental health. They are more vulnerable to physical attacks, domestic violence and sexual abuse, all of which are key risk factors for women and mental health conditions. In fact, one in three women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime and are statistically more likely to experience sexual abuse, incest, and neglect in their childhood. 

Women also experience higher rates of socioeconomic disadvantage and income inequality. Furthermore, women are more likely to be carers which often carries with it psychological and physical burdens.

Lastly, certain types of depressive conditions can be unique to women, such as Premenstrual Depressive Disorder, Perinatal Depression, and Perimenopausal Depression.

 

Getting Help 

When SUD and addiction combine with mental health conditions, the patient should be treated for both conditions. Women’s mental health and SUD and addiction should be addressed together. Finding a center which specializes in treating Co-occurring Disorders is crucial for obtaining the best possible outcome. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, addiction and/or mental health conditions, help is available. At Harmony Recovery Group we treat addiction and mental health holistically to create the best chance of long-term recovery and wellbeing.

Contact us today, we are here for you. 

 

Sources

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-in-women/index.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5959880/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/addiction-in-women

https://www.who.int/mental_health/media/en/242.pdf?ua=1

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