Serious Mental Illness in Women

Marcela Almeida; Sun J. Fletcher


Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2022;35(3):157-164. 

In This Article


SMI have different rates and are manifested differently in women and men, because of biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors. Some SMI are more prevalent in women whereas others uniquely affect them during particular life stages (e.g. PPD and psychosis, perimenstrual psychosis). Major depression, the second leading cause of global disability burden, is twice as common in women. Even in disorders that have a similar prevalence in men and women, the presentation, course, management, and repercussions can vary significantly between the two genders. Psychiatric comorbidities, which directly influence treatment, prognosis, and disability, are more common in women.

The mental health effects of chronic exposure to gender disparities have not yet been fully described. Psychiatric conditions are also susceptible to gender bias. For example, women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men when present ing with identical symptoms and are prescribed psychotropic medications at a higher rate compared with men.

Recognizing these gender differences can help with identification of women at risk, early recognition of symptoms, prompt interventions, and adjustments in treatment that may change personal and global outcomes.