Gender Differences In Mental Health Disorders

According to World Health Organization, health is defined as the absence of disease anddisability, individual’s physical, mental and social well-being. In that case, Mental health can be defined to live in peace with him/herself and the others. This adaptation is not bound by strict rules, it carries a certain degree of flexibility and variability. In the situation of mental ilness, unusual deviations and irregularities are observed in the behavior of human thoughts and feelings. People with mental illness’s  harmony with the outside world is broken and their relationship with people is shaken. Deteriorations in mental health generally start slowly. Patient’s relatives don’t realize this slow deterioration  and they usually connect this situation to a number of vital events. These disorders are particularly occur in adolescence period and they are perceived as a youth problem.

Abnormal behaviors were previously classified as neurotic and psychotic disorders. Neurotic disorders are mild, psychotic disorders are serious illnesses. In neurotic disordes, Individuals canmaintain their own life; However, Individuals need to someone else’s help in psychotic disorders.Neurosis patients don’t lose their reality bonds, Psychosis patient can not distinguish reality and imagination. At the present time, because of there are more than 250 diseases group have been defined, this distinction of  neurotic&psychotic is not used. Major diseases are as follows:
Alcohol and Drug Depence
Substance abuse is the need to constantly use substances. Patients know all physical and psychological problems caused by substance abuse and they are sincere in desiring to leave the use of substances; However, they can not be successful. This leads to patients leaving important social and professional activities.

Anxiety is defined as the situation of emotional upset, boredom and unpleasant emotive concern. It causes people to live in constant worry and tension. Patients find themselves incompetent and easily enter into a depression. Because of they can’t be concentrated and they are afraid of to make mistake, they have difficulty making decisions.


People with depression don’t enjoy anything in life.  They are pessimist and feel like a excessive guilty. They like silence and they are quiet. Patients are hopeless, they can’t be concentrated during depression. There is loss of interest  and sleeping disorders in their daily life. Thoughts of death and suicidal ideas are commonly observed.


The most significant symptom in paranoia are hallucinations. Generally, patients believe that they are celebrity person. For this reason, they allege that they are followed by someone and someone else want to kill them. Except delusions, any thougt disorders is observed.
Panic Attack

Repetitive intense boredom or fear seizures are defined as panic attacks. They usually be abruptly. During attacks, heart palpitation, swearing, shortness of breath, chest pain and dizzines are observed body symptoms.


Phobia is the extraordinary and unwarranted fears which development against certain objects and situations. People with phobia consciously avoid these objects and situations. Even, when they think about them, they show a significant stress response. Fear of extremism is known by patient. Phobia is a fear which arise by learning. Conditioning occurs with the negative experience with the feared object or situation and this extreme fear caused phobia.


People with schizophrenia cut off from the outside world. They can not distinguish reality and imagination. They see illusions and hallucinations. They may behave unexpectedly aggressive.There are emotional dullness in patients. Establishing emotional communication with them is difficult. There is lack of an emotional response. Patients sometimes sit in a chair for hours doing nothing. They are incapable of self-care.  They have less energy and desire. The content of the speech and speech are impaired. Patient makes illogical conclusions and they are likely to commit suicide.

Somatoform Disorder

Somatic complaints which are unexplained with any organic reasons are defined as Somatoform Disorder. People who have this disorder always have complaints so they frequently go to the doctor and they want to receive medical and surgical treatment applications. Spontaneous healing is very rare in this disorder.

Mood Disorders

Experienced sadness and happiness which are not associated with incident and severe & long-term are defined as mood disorders. There are differences between individuals with mood disorders.

Even mood disorders are varied, most common disorders are manic and depressif formats. Patients keep change into between to mood or they can be stuck in either.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a mental disorder which is dominated by obsessions and compulsions. Obsession is repetitive thoughts which cause trouble on people. Managing and eliminating with this instrusive thoughts are almost impossible for patients with OCD.  These actions can be mental or behavioral. Most common OCD symphtoms are repetitive hand washing, repeatedly checking things, over doubting and obsession of counting.

Gender Differences

When mental disorders are examining, several differences were observed in either gender. These differences are particularly pronounced in incidence in both sexes. As a result, compared to men, women are seen as more likely to have mental disorders and they are observed as more prone to mental deterioration.Some mental disorders which contain gender differences are as follows:

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder  (PTSD)

Posttraumatic stress disorders can develop after people which are exposed traumatic events such as natural disasters, wars, accidents, serious injury, rape, child marriage, domestic violence, torture, female genital mutilation and getting serious deadly diseases.

Even PTSD is especially observed in returned U.S soldiers from Vietnamese War, Compared to men, it has been observed in women more than 2-3 times in the world. According to official records which are taken from Nicholos D. Kristof ‘s book; Half the Sky: Every year approximately  100,000 young girls are kidnapped for prostitution. Also, there are a total of 130 billion circumcised women around the world and 3 billion is added each year from Africa. In addition to these a women is raped every half hour In India and 21% of the women in Ghana have their first sexual experiences with rape. 17% of the women in Nigeria have had to face rape or attempted rape until the age of 19. 21% of the women in South Africa are raped until they are 15.

Dissociative Identity Disorder- Multiple Personolity (DID)

Dissociative identity disorder is seen, compared to males, 8-9 times more often in females. The main reasons why DID is more common in females are cases of incest, sexual abuse and rape which are encountered by women in their childhood period .Too many patients with DID are trying to cope with trauma by creating personalities that can lift the burden of this trauma. They are trying to alleviate their distress by seperating memories from consciousness and some of their personalities don’t remember anything about a bad experience.

Anorexia Nervoza

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by immoderate food restriction. People who have anorexia are obsessed to have a thin figure, and they are too much afraid of weight gain. This disorder is generally seen between 10-30 years of age. Compared to male, it is 10 to 20 times more common in females. Also, according to the researches,  70% of patients are women and one in every 200 women in the world is anorexia. In addition to these, there are many fashion models and ballerinas in patients.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is an eating disorder in which the person regularly binge-eats. It cause attacks and during these attacks, person eats too much and then tries to compensate for that behavior by over-exercising and purging by vomiting or s/he uses laxatives. Person can tries these two way at the same time. This disorder is generally seen between 15-30 years of age and compared to male, it is 10 times more common in females. The main reason is social pressure to have the slim body line. Most of patients with bulimia’s weight is generally within normal limits; However, They are always worrying about their appearence and they are obsessed with their sexual attraction.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
If some emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms which occurs before and during the menstrual period, are enough severe to disrupt the course of dailylife, it is given the name of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In psychiatric diagnosis book DSM-IV, it is defined as mood disorders. Premenstrual symptoms is seen in seventy percent of women. In contrast, premenstrual dysphoric disorder is seen very small part of society.  There are many physical symptoms such as unhappiness, sadness, constant crying, dying wishes, suicidal ideas, a sense of helplessness, mood swings, uncontrollability of anger, hypersensitivity to sound and smell.

According to the study, the average age of the symptoms is 20s and the age of those admitted for treatment were observed in the average age of 30s.Also, other studies show that mood disorders are observed in patients with PMDD ‘ s first or second degree relatives. In another research conducted in this area shows that  major depressive disorder were found in  65% of patients ‘s first-degree relatives.
Psychological Problems Encountered During Pregnancy and Postpartum Period
Depression and psychological distress characterized disorders are common in the period after pregnancy and childbirth. These diseases prevents woman to take good care of themselves in their pregnancy period and it makes them incapable to care for their babies after chilbirth.

These problems can be grouped under three headings from mild to severe;

  1. Postpartum Blues : Variability in mood and crying episodes are the most frequent symptoms. Although the reason is not clear, after birth, sudden decline in hormones and other biological changes are thinked to be reasons. It is reported that it is seen  in 30% to 80%  of women.
  1. Postpartum Depression: The disease usually ends in 3-4 months, it rarely continues longer than 1 year.  The main symptoms are psychological breakdown , loss of interest in the environment, feeling of inadequancy, insomnia or hypersomnia , a loss of interest , feeling worthless, recurrent thoughts of suicide and death.
  1. Postpartum Psychosis: It is the most severe part of postpartum period. Risk is increased in patients with manic-depressive illness. The main symptoms are severe depressive psychology, feeling worthless and guilt, confusion in thought, cockiness , auditory and visual hallucinations, insomnia and hyperactivity. Behavior may have a tendency to kill in severe forms. This behavior may be against the person or baby.


Vaginal muscle spasm which makes any kind of vaginal penetration painful or impossible is defined as vaginismus. In psychology, vaginismus is defined as ‘anxiety disorder’ or ‘sexual phobia’. According to Institute for Sexual Health Association (CISED) ‘s studies, approximately, one out of every ten women have vaginismus in Turkey.

The main psychological reasons are cognitive distortions and moral concepts. Exaggerated and false stories about the first night which are heard from relatives and friends causes people to have problems during sexual intercourse by settling subconscious. Also, women which receive “sexual protection” messages, because of the instinct to protect themselves, they encounter with vaginal muscle spasm and it impedes relations.

Women with vaginismus may think that it is deficiency so they are useless. Because of this, they can isolate themselves from social life and this can cause other problems. Depression is frequently seen in most cases of vaginismus patients. Vaginismus patients are blamed themselves for failing. They feel worthless and defective. So, social phobia may occurs. Social Phobia is staying away from vital,social and economic activities. People with social phobia avoide to meet new people.

Treatment of Abnormal Behaviors

A result of the treatment, even the recovery rate is very high, there is a possibility of recurrence of the disease in some behavioral disorders. Therefore, patients shall be followed for long times. In general, the treatment of abnormal behavior has 3 type of therapies. These are, biological-medical, psychotherapy, and other therapies.Besides the biological and psychological treatments, occupational therapy, art therapy, music therapy as treatments are also available.



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