Section 5: Mental disorders and disability: Gender differences
5.1. Are women more likely than men to experience a mental or psychiatric disorder?
The National Comorbidity Survey, conducted in 1990-92, estimated that nearly half (47.3%) of all women between the ages of 15 and 54 have experienced a psychiatric disorder at some point in their lives. Lifetime prevalence rates for any psychiatric disorder were similar for men (48.7%). 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 (16% of women; 13% of men: National Center for Health Statistics, 1996). National and international studies found that women experience more years of disability due to depression, while men experience more alcohol-related disability (Murray & Lopez, 1997; Rhodes & Goering, 1997).
Estimating prevalence rates for mental disorders during a one-year period, the Epidemiological Catchment Area Survey found that 51.3 million people or 28.1% of adults had a mental disorder in 1990 (Bourdon, Rae, Narrow, Mandersheid, & Regier, 1994). About 5 million people, (2.8% of adults) experienced severe mental disorders (National Advisory Mental Health Council, 1993).
Rates of depressive and anxiety disorders are higher for women, while men experience more substance abuse disorders.
Figure 22: Lifetime prevalence of certain types of psychiatric disorders, by gender
Sources: National Center for Health Statistics (1996); Kessler, McGonagle, Zhao, et al. (1994)
Surveys: National Comorbidity Survey, 1990-92