According to the Black Dog Institute, one in five (20.0%) of Australians aged 16-85 years’ experience mental disorders in a period of 12 months. Almost half (45%) Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
Whilst men appear to be more vulnerable in certain areas, mood disorders continue to be more common amongst women. Across the lifetime, depression appears to affect one in six (17%) women compared to one in 10 (10%) men. Mood disorders are overall more prevalent among women in the 25-34 age group.
According to Sane, every year, around 14% of all adult Australians are affected by an anxiety disorder. Women are affected more than men. According to Beyondblue, anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, 1 in 4 people–1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men–will experience anxiety.
54% of people with mental illness do not access any treatment. The proportion of people with mental illness accessing treatment is half that of people with physical disorders. Access to treatment is essential as approximately 75% of people improve notably (Department of Health and Ageing. (2013). National Mental Health Report 2013).
These statistics show just how prevalent mental health issues are in Australia, but also highlight how important it is for women to focus on their psychological health and seek support. Each and every one of us is susceptible to experiencing a mental health issue in our lifetime, or knowing someone who has. To understand just exactly what kind of issues women might face every day, we spoke to Lysn COO and Head of Clinical Tahnee Schulz .
Statistics show that around 1 in 5 women in Australia will experience depression during their lifetime. Depression can be a debilitating disorder that can affect all areas of a person’s life and can have a negative impact on everyday living. Depression in women is common, and can drain energy and hope, causing feelings of sadness, helplessness and worthlessness. The symptoms of depression can vary from person to person but are likely to have a serious effect on a person’s mood and give them an overwhelming sense of feeling ‘sad’. Depression can cause a person to lose interest in the things that they normally enjoy, it can affect their sleeping and appetite, and can lead to experiencing suicidal thoughts. It is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know might be experiencing the symptoms of depression.
In Australia, statistics indicate that 1 in 3 women will experience anxiety during their lifetime, which includes General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) panic disorder, and certain phobias. Global study results show that women are almost twice as likely to suffer from anxiety as men. This may be largely attributed to biological, socio-cultural, and psychological reasons such as the fact that women develop less of the feel-good chemical serotonin, and women’s hormone levels naturally fluctuate more than men’s do. The symptoms of anxiety range from excessive worry, fatigue, irritability and sleep problems. Many high functioning people live with anxiety by minimising the effects it has on daily life. However, this can be hugely fatiguing on the mind and body and long term can lead to illness and disease. There are a number of ways to treat anxiety, including utilising practical strategies to help alleviate stress or seeking the help of a professional.
According to NEDC, eating disorders and disordered eating together are estimated to affect over 16% of the Australian population. According to Eating Disorders Victoria (2012), females comprise around 64% of people, suffering from a range of variations such as binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders. Furthermore, NEDC have found that people with eating disorders experience higher rates of other mental disorders with reports of up to 97% having a comorbid condition. The most common of these are depression and anxiety disorders, followed by substance abuse and personality disorders. Anxiety disorders are experienced by 64% of individuals with an eating disorder. Typically, the anxiety disorder presents before the eating disorder, often in childhood. Eating, resisting and purging can present as a coping strategy to help gain a stronger a sense of control.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an average of eight Australians take their own lives every day. In Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death for males and females aged between 15 and 44. In a typical year, about 3,000 people in Australia die by suicide whilst more than 62,000 people attempt to take their own lives.
Whilst men are more likely to commit suicide, research has shown that women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide. Men are often more likely to complete suicidal attempts because they are more impulsive and use more forceful means to end their life. Sadly, about 50 percent of those who attempt suicide don’t attend any treatment post-discharge. This knowledge becomes even more significant when we consider that suicidal attempts is the most significant risk factor for further suicidal behaviour.
If you or someone you know might be experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek help immediately.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD as it is commonly referred to, can develop after a person has been exposed to, or experienced a traumatic event such as sexual assault, death, natural disaster.
A fundamental influence to developing PTSD is a person’s biological and psychological reaction to the event. Contrary to popular belief, statistics show that PTSD is more common in women than men. Research indicates that women are more likely to be exposed to the types of traumas that are strongly related to the development of PTSD. It is often thought that men are more likely to experience PTSD due to their nature of male-dominated professions (such as police and armed forces etc).
PTSD can be intrusive, confusing, consuming and debilitating and often people suffer in silence. If you are suffering from PTSD, it’s important to remember that the traumatic event/s is not your identity or the totality of your existence. Processing trauma can be painful and take a lot of energy, but you can process the experience in an empowering way to support a strong sense of self and quality of life.
I encourage all people, at all stages of their life, to engage in good self-care, self-compassion and positive relationships. Finding a psychologist you trust and respect can be life-changing. No one is an expert on your life, you are the expert. But a psychologist can be by your side through your wellbeing journey, providing valuable professional guidance and insight.