What is the Impact of Age and Gender on Mental Health Problems?

Published on: April 19, 2022 

There is a common misconception that mental illnesses are a problem only for younger people. In fact, mental illnesses affect all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Furthermore, while younger populations are more likely to be diagnosed with certain disorders, the rates at which mental health problems occur in the United States do not change significantly as individuals age.

Mental illnesses can start at any age, but many people begin experiencing problems in their early 20s. In fact, 25% of Americans will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. That's approximately 1 out of every four people you know! Women are more likely to experience depression or anxiety than men, while men are more likely to have substance abuse issues. The rate of suicide among women ages 15-24 is three times higher than that of men in the same age range.

Gender and age are two of the most significant factors in mental health.

For example, if a person is a woman over 70, they are 15% more likely to have depression than a man the same age.

If a person is an 18-year-old woman, they are 33% more likely to attempt suicide than an 18-year-old man.

Key Findings:

Younger women were more likely to suffer from depression, while older men had higher rates of substance abuse problems.

We experience and express mental health problems vary widely based on age and gender.

Mental health problems occur at a higher rate in women than in men. This is true across the entire life span, but the gap widens as women get older. For example, women are twice as likely to experience depression as men, but when we talk about the elderly, this number grows to 3 times.

Another example: between ages 18-54, men are twice more likely to have antisocial personality disorder than women; by age 65 and over, however, this number jumps to 5 times more likely. Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that not all of these differences can be attributed to biological factors-society and culture play a significant role.

There's no doubt that some aspects of our lives change as we get older:

  • We often have fewer responsibilities at home with children leaving or moving out
  • Our relationships change with partners or friends passing away
  • We may have less opportunity for social activities or hobbies as we become older

This can leave us feeling lonely or isolated, impacting our mental health.

Mental Health and Age

Unfortunately, our society has a habit of looking at the elderly as though they are asexual. We think about their physical ailments, pain, and physical limitations, and we often forget that they still possess healthy sexual appetites and relationships with their spouses. And because we don't think about the elderly in terms of sexual activity, we fail to realize that they are just as susceptible to STDs as younger people.

This is particularly true for HIV/AIDS. While younger people tend to contract HIV through intravenous drug use or needle sharing, older people contract HIV through unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Gender and Mental Health

Recent studies have shown that gender may play an essential role in developing mental health problems. For example, a survey commissioned by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and conducted by the Center for Health Reporting found that women are more likely to experience symptoms of depression. Yet, men are more likely to commit suicide. Additionally, women are more likely than men to report depression and seek treatment, which is especially beneficial since untreated depression can lead to suicide.

This issue needs more attention because it is complex and often overlooked.

Due to the stigma surrounding mental illness and the lack of understanding of many disorders, people are frequently unwilling or unable to seek treatment for their ailments.

Many factors can influence the likelihood that an individual will experience mental health problems and the prevalence of those problems once they have manifested. In addition, several factors contribute to mental illness, including gender, which influences everything from the type of mental illness someone experiences to their likelihood of receiving treatment.

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