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The 16 most common psychological disorders in women

It is a fact that a woman is more likely to suffer from a mental disorder throughout her life than a man. This is explained by genetic, cultural, educational, relational, social factors... That is, 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 involvement in men. Some of them, as we will see, are also more frequent in women than in men.

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The 16 most common psychological disorders in women

What are the most common psychological disorders in women? As we will see, these are psychological or mental disorders of all kinds: eating behavior, personality, mood, related to stress and anxiety, etc.

We are going to see the characteristics of each one of them.

1. Anxiety

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.

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Thus, the 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 matters of daily life; that is, they are not serious matters, but nevertheless, the person is tense, nervous, irritable, etc. It is like a generalized state of tension that affects the day-to-day of the person.

1.2. Social anxiety disorder

The old "social phobia" consists of a disproportionate fear of speaking in public, relating to other people, making a fool of yourself in front of others, and so on.

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 get help or of 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.

2. Depression

Depression is one of the most frequent psychological disorders in the world population. Major depressive disorder is also very common in women (twice as many as in men). Specifically, the frequency of mood disorders is 5% in women (vs. 1.7% in men) also including bipolar disorder.

Within the specific depressive mood disorders (depression), we find different disorders. We meet them below.

2.1. Major depressive disorder (MDD)

MDD involves a series of symptoms that significantly interfere with the patient's day-to-day life; These symptoms translate into irritability, guilt, deep sadness, anhedonia, apathy, disturbances sleep (sleeping a lot or sleeping little), poor appetite (or excess appetite), cognitive distortions, anxiety, etc.

These symptoms last at least 2 weeks. The characteristic symptom of MDD, however, is the lack of enthusiasm for things, and not enjoying things that were previously enjoyed.

2.2. Dysthymia

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 Disorder (ED)

Eating disorders (ED) are another of the most common psychological disorders in women. Its prevalence is 8.4% in women (vs. 1.4% in men). In eating disorders there is an alteration in habitual eating patterns. The most common in women are:

3.1. Anorexia nervosa (AN)

Anorexia nervosa is up to ten times more common 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.

An intense fear of gaining weight appears, accompanied by an alteration in the vision of the body silhouette. That is, the person with anorexia fears gaining weight and looks excessively fat. For this reason, he executes a series of behaviors with the aim of losing weight or not gaining it. These behaviors translate into: taking laxatives and diuretics, excessive and intense physical exercise, inducing vomiting, very strict diets, etc.

Women with anorexia nervosa are often excessively thin, to the point where their health is seriously threatened.

3.2. Bulimia nervosa (BN)

Bulimia nervosa is another eating disorder, also very common in women. In this case, the symptoms include: recurrent episodes of voracious eating (at least 2 weekly for 3 months), compensatory behaviors for not gaining weight (similar to those of anorexia), and a distortion of the image bodily.

Depressive and anxious symptoms are frequently associated with BN.

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3.3. Binge eating disorder

Another of the most common psychological disorders in women is binge eating disorder (another eating disorder). It is basically characterized by binge eating episodes, which occur on a recurring basis. Unlike bulimia, but, in binge eating disorder, it does not perform compensatory behaviors.

4. Personality disorders (PD)

Personality disorders are also one of the most common psychological disorders in women. Remember that in a TP, the symptoms must be of such intensity that they interfere with the person's life, making it difficult for her to adapt to life and society. In addition, they cause great discomfort to 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% can go up to 5.9%. In addition, more or less 75% of the diagnoses belong to women. In this personality disorder, there is great difficulty in regulating emotions. TO

In addition, there is great emotional instability, dependence on others, low self-esteem, insecurities, feeling of emptiness, great impulsiveness, self-image problems, disturbed interpersonal relationships (uneven), etc.

The person's mood is altered as well, and the patient often shows significant depressive symptoms. Suicide attempts or self-injurious behaviors also appear many times.

4.2. Dependent personality disorder

In this personality disorder, as its name suggests, the main symptom is an excessive dependence on others. The person "needs" the constant approval of others in everything he does; In addition, they are people with poor self-esteem and quite insecure. It is also one of the most common psychological disorders in women.

4.3. Avoidant Personality Disorder

In this case, there is an intense fear of making a fool of yourself. Thus, women with avoidance disorder avoid social situations where they fear feeling rejected, or where they might "make a fool of themselves." It is a PD (personality disorder) similar to the previous one, although with differential nuances.

In histrionic disorder, also more frequent in women than in men, the person constantly “needs” to be the center of attention; Therefore, he seeks the attention of others through exaggerated and / or dramatic behavior, theatricality, etc.

In addition, the pattern of this TP is excessive and unstable emotionality.

5. Disorders of impulse control

Impulse control disorders have a prevalence of 6.1% in the female gender (vs. 2.4% in men). They involve a failure to resist an urge, desire, or temptation. These wishes are related to acts that harm oneself (or others). Examples of them are:

5.1. Kleptomania

Kleptomania involves the addiction to stealing; that is, the person feels an internal “need” to steal (without violence). When you are about to do it, you feel a tension that is released at the moment of committing the act (feeling of relief).

5.2. Pathological gambling

In this case the addiction is gambling; the person shows more and more difficulties to resist playing. These behaviors seriously interfere with all areas of your life.

6. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Another of the most common psychological disorders in women. Actually, OCD is a group of disorders, which include the following.

6.1. TOC

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) itself. The main symptoms include obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are recurring images or thoughts that "get into" the patient's mind without his being able to resist it.

Compulsions are behaviors that are intended to reduce or eliminate the anxiety produced by obsessions (would be the OCD rituals) (for example touch the ground "X" number of times, count to 100, clap etc.).

6.2. Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania, formerly listed as an impulse control disorder, is listed as an OCD in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders). In this case, the person feels the need to pull out their hair in times of stress, and they do so.

Bibliographic references

  • American Psychiatric Association -APA- (2014). DSM-5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Madrid: Panamericana.

  • Arenas, M.C. and Puigcerver, A. (2009). Differences between men and women in anxiety disorders: a psychobiological approach. Writings of Psychology, 3 (1): 20-29.

  • Belloch, A., Sandín, B. and Ramos, F. (2010). Manual of Psychopathology. Volume I and II. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.

  • Navarro-Pardo, E. Meléndez Moral, J.C., Sales Galán, A. Sancerni Beitia, M.D. (2012). Child and adolescent development: most frequent mental disorders according to age and gender. Psicothema, 24 (3): 377-383.

  • Phillips, K.A. and First, M.B. (2009). Introduction. In W.E. Narrow, M.B. First, P.J. Sirovatka and D.A. Regier (Eds.). Research Agenda for DSM-V. Age and gender considerations in psychiatric diagnosis (pp. 3-6) Barcelona: Elsevier Masson.

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