Impact of Sex and Gender on Mental Health

Impact of Sex and Gender on Mental Health

The prevalence of mental health disorders greatly varies between men and women. Mental health disorders are known to impact an individual’s quality of life in terms of their emotions, behaviors, mood, and thought processes (Otten et al., 2021). Although mental illness can impact anyone, studies have shown that there are higher rates of specific disorders found in one sex compared to the other. In addition, it has been challenging for scientists to determine the true causes of the vast differences in prevalence rates between sexes.

The disorders that are more commonly identified in women are often related to the internalization of emotion while men are diagnosed with disorders that externalize emotions (Eaton et al., 2012). The National Comorbidity Survey has identified that women are approximately twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorder, social phobia, major depression, and panic disorder in comparison to men (Eaton et al., 2012). The survey has also indicated that men have higher prevalence rates for alcohol and drug dependence, as well as antisocial personality disorder when compared to women (Eaton et al., 2012). Moreover, dementia as well as mood and neurotic disorders are found more in women (Suanrueang et al., 2022). Intellectual disability, schizophrenia, along with mental and behavioral disorders are better detected in men (Suanrueang et al., 2022). In addition, each sex experiences different severities of the diagnoses. For instance, adverse symptoms related to schizophrenia are more commonly reported in men while there are worse anxiety symptoms present in women (Otten et al., 2021). Men have also reported having experienced more traumatic incidents in their lives, yet women are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder after traumatic events (Otten et al., 2021). Additionally, suicide performed by men occurs more frequently while women have higher numbers of suicide attempts (Otten et al., 2021).

Although the origins of the prevalence rate differences between the two sexes have not been made clear, many factors that impact the rates have been determined (Otten et al., 2021). Seeing as sex refers to the biological construct of an individual at birth, factors including hormone production of sex-specific hormones may explain differences in relation to psychiatric and stress disorders (Otten et al., 2021). Gender refers to the self-identity of an individual and relates to the behavior associated norms and power distribution that society has assigned to men and women (Otten et al., 2021). Gender-related factors include; self-esteem, gender-related violence, and family-related factors (Otten et al., 2021). Socioeconomic positions and social interactions vastly differ among men and women depending on their culture, and where they live. Furthermore, disparities in education, family, and lifestyle-related factors are being studied as characteristics that impact differing mental health diagnoses in men and women (Otten et al., 2021).

All individuals regardless of sex and gender should be provided with fair mental health treatment options. The various differences in prevalence rates can change the future of mental health assistance. For instance, improved prevention options can be discussed with the respective sex (Suanrueang et al., 2022). Enhanced mental health evaluations can be performed and risk factors are more likely to be identified (Suanrueang et al., 2022). In addition, new medications can be formulated and more tailored treatment options can be provided. Ultimately, these unique prevalence rates can aid in the implementation of better mental health resources for men and women.


Eaton, N. R., Keyes, K. M., Krueger, R. F., Balsis, S., Skodol, A. E., Markon, K. E., Grant, B. F., & Hasin, D. S. (2012, February). An invariant dimensional liability model of gender differences in mental disorder prevalence: Evidence from a national sample. Journal of abnormal psychology. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from

Otten, D., Tibubos, A. N., Schomerus, G., Brähler, E., Binder, H., Kruse, J., Ladwig, K.-H., Wild, P. S., Grabe, H. J., & Beutel, M. E. (2021, February 5). Similarities and differences of mental health in women and men: A systematic review of findings in three large German cohorts. Frontiers in public health. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from

Suanrueang, P., Peltzer, K., Suen, M.-W., Lin, H.-F., & Er, T.-K. (2022). Trends and gender differences in mental disorders in hospitalized patients in Thailand. Inquiry: a journal of medical care organization, provision and financing. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from          

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