During her presentation, Maj. Debra Dunivin, PhD, of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., pointed out several ways mental health disorders differ among women and men. They include:

  • As many as 10 percent to 20 percent of women will experience depression at some point in their lives, whereas 8 percent to 10 percent of men may be affected.

  • Eating disorders are more likely in women and there's more often a co-morbid depression.

  • Among women, depression disorders are much more likely to be accompanied by co-morbid anxiety disorders.

  • During a bout of depression, women are much more likely than men to experience atypical symptoms including hyperinsomnia and an increase in appetite.

  • Bipolar disorder is equally prevalent among women and men; however, the course of the disorder may be quite different. Compared with men, women are more likely to have rapid cycling episodes, experience more depressions and more dysphoria manias and to develop lithium-induced hypothyroid disorder.

  • Women are more likely than men to have anxiety disorders and have a greater incidence of panic disorder with agoraphobia.

  • The prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorders among men and women is almost equal, but women tend to have an earlier onset and more obsessions related to food and weight than men.

  • Schizophrenia affects women more favorably than men. Women have a later onset, fewer symptoms and a better response to treatment.

--S. MARTIN