Women are disproportionately more diagnosed with anxiety and depression than men. Per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in any given year about 40 million (18%) American adults age 18 years and older experience fearfulness and uncertainty as a result of anxiety and 6.7% of U.S adults experience a major depressive disorder. Specifically, women are 60% more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder over their lifetime and 70 % more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime. Gender specific risk factors for common mental disorders that disproportionately affect women include gender based violence, socioeconomic disadvantage, low income and income inequality, low or subordinate social status and rank and unremitting responsibility for the care of others. Depression also may occur with other serious medical illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. People who have depression along with another medical illness tend to have more severe symptoms of both depression and the medical illness, more difficulty adapting to their medical condition, and more medical costs than those who do not have co-existing depression. Treating the depression can also help improve the outcome of treating the co-occurring illness.
Despite the high rates of diagnosed psychological conditions in women they still may not seek counseling to help manage these conditions. There are a variety of factors that may act as barriers to help-seeking behaviors including gender, culture, stigma, severity of symptoms, religion, and social implications. Untreated mental health problems can have a significant impact on the health and development of the client as well as the client’s family members.