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Chartbook on Mental Health and Disability

Section 2: Characteristics of disability in adult life

2.2. Do rates of psychiatric disorder differ for women and men?

The National Comorbidity Survey, conducted in 1990-92, found that women and men experienced similar lifetime prevalence rates of psychiatric disorder. Among people between the ages of 15 and 54, nearly half of the women (47.3%) and the men (48.7%) experienced a psychiatric disorder at some point in their lives. However, women more often suffered a depressive disorder (23.9% of women; 14.7% of men) or anxiety disorder (30.5% of women; 19.2% of men). In contrast, substance abuse disorders affect more men (17.9% of women; 35.4% of men). Women were more likely to have experienced three or more psychiatric disorders in a lifetime.

Women and men have similar lifetime prevalence rates of psychiatric disorder, but rates differ for types of disorders.

Figure 8 (see data table for text-only version)

Figure 8: Lifetime prevalence of certain psychiatric disorders, by gender

Source: National Center for Health Statistics (1996); Kessler, McGonagle, & Zhao (1994)

Surveys: National Comorbidity Survey, 1990-92

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