Why Women’s Mental Health is Important
It is important to highlight women’s mental health as their specific issues can differ from other genders. The societal pressures that women often face can impact their mental health and their overall wellbeing. Women can struggle with workplace discrimination, childcare and pregnancy issues, and other socioeconomic factors that can act as barriers to receiving necessary mental health care. ADAA offers a variety of mental health resources girls, teens, women and older adults.
General Women’s Mental Health
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PPD)
- Perinatal Mood Disorders
Girls and Teens
Additional Resources from ADAA
- Infographics for Women and Girls
- Stories from the community
- Blogs and Webinars from ADAA Professional Members
ADAA's Women’s Mental Health Special Interest Group (SIG) creates a place for clinicians and researchers to discuss, debate, and address issues relevant to the understanding and treatment of women suffering from anxiety and depression and related disorders. Learn more here.
General Women’s Mental Health
Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions - just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes. Anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United States. Click here to learn more about women and anxiety.
Every day, women face many different stressors in both their personal and professional lives. Feeling sad, lonely, and scared are normal reactions, however, for individuals who are diagnosed with depression, these feelings tend to be more severe as they persist. Click here to learn more about women and depression.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PPD)
Many women may experience transient physical and emotional changes around the time of their period1. These symptoms are usually mild and tolerable but when it becomes uncontrollable and debilitating, they may interfere with a woman's quality of life and mental health. Click here to learn more about PMS and PPD.
Perinatal mood disorders are related to mood and anxiety symptoms that occur during pregnancy or up to one year postpartum. Depression that occurs during pregnancy or within a year after delivery is called perinatal depression. Researchers believe that depression is one of the most common complications during and after pregnancy. According to PostPartum Support International, while many women experience some mild mood changes during or after the birth of a child, 15 to 20% of women experience more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety. Click here to learn more about perinatal mood disorders.
Following childbirth, other known as "postpartum", women may experience postpartum disorders that can affect their mental health. The high hormonal changes and fluctuations that occur during and after childbirth could cause mothers to feel intense mood swings called "the baby blues" which affects 80% of mothers. Click here to learn more about postpartum disorders.
Girls and Teens
Anxiety, depression, and other co-occurring disorders can occur in both genders but during the teenage years, girls are at a higher risk than boys. Click here to learn more about mental health in young girls and teens.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
Most of us have something we don't like about our appearance — a crooked nose, an uneven smile, or eyes that are too large or too small. And though we may fret about our imperfections, they generally don’t interfere with our daily lives. But people who have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) think about their real or perceived flaws for hours each day and this can lead to serious mental health issues. Click here to learn more about BDD.
Eating disorders are illnesses that involve irregular eating habits and a severe concern about body weight, shape or overall appearance. They affect both genders, although rates among women and girls are 2.5 times greater than among men and boys. Transgender individuals experience eating disorders at rates significantly higher than cisgender individuals (Diemer et al., 2015). Click here to learn more about eating disorders.
According to the CDC, Women aged 50 or older reported more current and lifetime diagnoses of depression than men. The same report notes that women aged 50–64 report a lifetime diagnosis of an anxiety disorder more often than men in this age group. Click here to learn more about mental health in older women.
Perimenopause-related Mood Disorders
Women have an increased risk for depression as they transition to menopause. The time period before menopause is "perimenopause" and it represents the passage from reproductive to non-reproductive life. Click here to learn more about perimenopause and depression.
Additional Resources from ADAA
Explore these helpful resources from public community members and ADAA’s professional members.
- Women & Anxiety, Depression, and Co-occurring Disorders infographic.
- Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in partnership with Postpartum Society International)
Stories from the Community
- The Beginning of My Journey with Anxiety, May 2022
- Everlasting Suicide, May 2022
- Physical Appearance Does Not Define, April 2022
- My Panic Attack, April 2022
- OCD Took My Life Away at the Age of 8, March 2022
- You Can Teach an Old(er) Dog – With OCD – New Tricks! (Or Why I Attended an OCD Treatment Program in My Late 40s), March 2022
- My Anxiety Triumph, March 2022
- An Unrecognized Symptom of Bipolar Disorder: Rage, March 2022
- They're Just Thoughts, February 2022
- Understanding Postpartum OCD and the Mother/Baby Attachment, May 2023
- Menstruation Matters for Mood. Period. Or does it?, April 2022
- Mind the Gap: Worsening Black Maternal Mental Health Outcomes During the Pandemic, March 2022
- How Black Women are Harnessing the Power of Racial Identity in the Face of Racism, March 2022
- What Parents Can Do to Help Young Children and Teens Deal with Stress and Anxiety, and Other Negative Feelings, February 2022
- It's Not Just OCD About Physical Appearance: Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder, 2021
- Flipping the Script: When the Therapist Becomes the Patient, 2020
- Flipping the Script: How Becoming a COVID-19 Patient Challenged My Skills as an Anxiety Therapist, 2020
- Mother/Baby Attachment Due to Unexpected OCD and Postpartum, 2020
- Treating Perinatal Mood Disorders Using Behavioral Activation Psychotherapy, 2018
- Mentoring Women in the Context of Gender, Racial, Ethnic, and Sexual Power Barriers, May 2021
- Race, Stress and Black Mother and Infant Mortality: Emotional Health Matters, May 2020
- Resisting Myths and Reducing Shame: Understanding the Impact of Rape Culture on the Prevalence of Sexual Assault within the African American Community., 2019
- Spotlight on Maternal Mental Health: Treatment and Research, 2019
- Using Behavioral Activation Treatment to Treat Perinatal Mood Disorders, 2018
- Overcoming Agoraphobia, May 2022
- Building the Confidence to Manage Anxiety, ADHD, and Executive Function, April 2022
- Beyond Physical Appearance: Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder, January 2022
- Get Unstuck from Depression and Anxiety with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, 2021
- Self-Compassion: The Art of Tending to your Struggles with Loving-Kindness Instead of Self-Criticism, 2021
- Fostering Mental Wellness for A Stress-Less Pregnancy, 2019
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): The Disease of Self-Perceived Ugliness and its Relationship to OCD, 2019
- Teen Girls Report Record Levels of Sadness, C.D.C. Finds, The New York Times, Jill Harkavy-Friedman, PhD
- Teens, especially girls, are experiencing more violence, suicidal thoughts and mental health challenges, CDC survey finds, CNN Health