It is a fact that a woman is more likely to suffer from a mental disorder during her lifetime than a man. This is explained by genetic, cultural, educational, relational, social factors… In other words, its etiology is multifactorial.
In this article we will know the 16 most common psychological disorders in women.that is, those that most affect women, regardless of their frequency or affectation in men. Some of them, as we will see, are also more frequent in women than in men.
- Recommended article: “Psychology of women: 12 female psychic characteristics”.
The 16 most common psychological disorders in women
What are the most common psychological disorders in women? As we shall see, these are psychological or mental disorders of all kinds: eating behavior, personality, mood, stress and anxiety-related, etc.
Let’s take a look at the characteristics of each of them.
Anxiety is a psychophysiological state accompanied by a series of cognitive, behavioral and physiological symptoms. There are different types of anxiety disorders, practically all of them more common in women than in men. Specifically, its prevalence in women is 24.6% (alarming data), vs. 11.5% in men.
- You may be interested in: “Eating anxiety: 9 tricks to control appetite and emotional hunger”.
Thus, different anxiety disorders appear quite frequently in women, such as the following.
1.1. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
GAD is a disorder in which the person feels anxious about different issues of everyday life; i.e., they are not serious issues, but nevertheless, the person is tense, nervous, irritable, etc. It is like a state of generalized tension that affects the person’s daily life.
1.2. Social anxiety disorder
The old “social phobia”, consists of a disproportionate fear of speaking in public, of relating to other people, of making a fool of oneself in front of others, etc.
1.3. Panic disorder
Panic disorder is one of the most disabling anxiety disorders. The main symptom is an intense fear of not being able to receive help or not being able to escape in the event of a panic attack.
Thus, symptoms such as tachycardia, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, fear of going crazy, etc. may appear. This is another of the most common psychological disorders in women.
Depression is one of the most frequent psychological disorders in the world population. Major depressive disorder is also very common in women (twice as common as in men).. Specifically, the frequency of mood disorders is 5% in women (vs. 1.7% in men) including bipolar disorder.
Within depressive mood disorders in particular (depression), we find different disorders. These are described below.
2.1. Major depressive disorder (MDD)
MDD entails a series of symptoms that interfere significantly in the patient’s daily life; these symptoms translate into irritability, feelings of guilt, deep sadness, anhedonia, apathy, sleep disturbances (too much sleep or too little sleep), lack of appetite (or excess appetite), cognitive distortions, anxiety, etc.
These symptoms last at least 2 weeks. The characteristic symptom of MDD, however, is a lack of enthusiasm for things, and a loss of enjoyment of things that were previously enjoyed.
Dysthymia is another depressive disorder; in this case, however, the symptoms last at least 2 years, and their intensity is less than in major depressive disorder. In other words, it is a less pronounced but more lasting sadness.
3. Eating disorders (ED)
Eating disorders (ED) are another of the most common psychological disorders in women.. Their prevalence is 8.4% in women (vs. 1.4% in men). In ED there is an alteration in habitual eating patterns. The most frequent in women are:
Anorexia nervosa (AN) 3.1.
Anorexia nervosa is up to ten times more frequent in women than in men. In anorexia nervosa the main symptom is a refusal to maintain a weight at a minimally normal level for the age and sex of the person.
There is an intense fear of gaining weight, accompanied by an alteration in the vision of the body silhouette. That is to say, the person with anorexia fears getting fat and sees him/herself as exaggeratedly fat. Therefore, he/she performs a series of behaviors with the aim of losing weight or not gaining it. These behaviors include: taking laxatives and diuretics, excessive and intense physical exercise, provoking vomiting, very strict diets, etc.
Women with anorexia nervosa are often excessively thin, to the point that their health is seriously threatened.
3.2. Bulimia nervosa (BN)
Bulimia nervosa is another eating disorder, also very common in women. In this case, symptoms include: recurrent episodes of voracious eating (at least 2 per week for 3 months), compensatory behaviors to avoid weight gain (similar to those of anorexia), and a distortion of body image.
Depressive and anxious symptoms are frequently associated with BN.
- Recommended: “What is the difference between anorexia and bulimia?”
3.3. Binge eating disorder
Another of the most common psychological disorders in women is binge eating disorder (another ED). It is basically characterized by episodes of binge eating, which occur recurrently. Unlike bulimia, however, binge eating disorder does not involve compensatory behaviors.
4. Personality disorders (PD)
Personality disorders are also among the most common psychological disorders in women. Recall that in a PT, the symptoms must be of such intensity that they interfere in the person’s life, making it difficult to adapt to life.and make it difficult for the person to adapt to life and society. In addition, they cause great discomfort in the patient. Within them, we find different. The most frequent in women are the following.
4.1. Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
Approximately 1.6% of the adult population suffers from BPD. However, studies suggest that its % may be as high as 5.9%. In addition, about 75% of the diagnoses belong to women. In this personality disorder, there is great difficulty in regulating emotions. A
n addition, there is great emotional instability, dependence on others, low self-esteem, insecurities, feeling of emptiness, great impulsivity, self-image problems, altered (unequal) interpersonal relationships, etc.
The person’s mood is also altered, and the patient usually shows significant depressive symptoms. Suicide attempts or self-injurious behaviors often appear.
4.2. Dependent personality disorder
In this personality disorder, as the name suggests, the main symptom is an excessive dependence on others. The person “needs” the constant approval of others in everything he/she does; in addition, these are people with poor self-esteem and quite insecure. It is also one of the most common psychological disorders in women.
4.3. Personality avoidance disorder
In this case, there is an intense fear of making a fool of oneself. Thus, women with avoidance disorder avoid social situations where they fear feeling rejected, or where they could “make a fool of themselves”. It is a PT (personality disorder) similar to the previous one, although with differential nuances.
4.4. Histrionic Personality Disorder
In histrionic disorder, also more frequent in women than in men, the person constantly “needs” to be the center of attention; therefore, he/she seeks the attention of others through exaggerated and/or dramatic behaviors, theatricality, etc.
In addition, the pattern of this PT is excessive and unstable emotionality.
5. Impulse control disorders
Impulse control disorders have a prevalence of 6.1% in females (vs. 2.4% in females). (vs. 2.4% in men). They involve a failure to resist an impulse, desire or temptation. These desires relate to acts that harm the self (or others). Examples of these are:
Kleptomania involves an addiction to stealing; that is, the person feels an internal “need” to steal (without violence). When he/she is about to do so, he/she feels a tension that is released at the moment of committing the act (feeling of relief).
In this case the addiction is to gambling; the person shows increasing difficulty in resisting gambling. These behaviors interfere seriously in all areas of his or her life.
6. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Another of the most common psychological disorders in women.. In reality, OCD is a group of disorders, which include the following.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) itself. The main symptoms include obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent images or thoughts, which “get into” the patient’s mind without the patient being able to resist them.
Compulsions are behaviors that aim to reduce or eliminate the anxiety produced by the obsessions (these would be the rituals of OCD) (e.g. touching the floor “X” number of times, counting to 100, clapping hands, etc.).
Trichotillomania, previously included as an impulse control disorder, is included in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders) as OCD. In this case, the person feels the need to pull out his or her hair in times of stress, and does so.