The Silent Struggle: Understanding the Unique Challenges of Women’s Mental Health

This article will highlight the often overlooked yet significant challenges faced by women in regard to their mental health.


Women face several societal and cultural factors that contribute to the silent struggle many women face in regard to their mental well-being. There is a need for increased awareness, support, and access to resources tailored to women’s mental health needs. This article will explore these unique challenges and stressors surrounding women and mental health

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Women’s Mental Health: Unique Challenges

Women face several unique challenges, but there are treatments out there for mental health disorders. 

-Understanding Women’s Mental Health

Mental health for women is a serious issue, with women struggling with higher rates of depression and anxiety and not nearly enough women getting the treatment they need because of trauma, discrimination, and societal expectations. For example:

  • Women are given anxiety medications like benzodiazepines more often than men, and they are also diagnosed with depression more than men.
  • Women are more likely to use prescription medications for anxiety treatments at home to try and self-medicate for sleeping issues, anxiety levels, or depression symptoms.
  • Once women start self-medicating, they are at a higher risk of addiction and relapse.
  • Sex hormones increase the sensitivity to the impact of things like substance abuse and chronic pain. 
  • Nearly 9% of women under the age of 25 have an alcohol addiction.
  • Women are more likely than men to have chronic pain and to self-medicate with opioids.

Mental Health for Women

Women are more likely to have a co-occurring mental health disorder and substance abuse disorder compared to men. For example, women are more likely to struggle with:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. PTSD
  4. Eating Disorders

Fact: Roughly 50% of women with anxiety or depressive disorders will self-medicate and subsequently develop an addiction. 

-Navigating Life Transitions and Stressors

Mental health in women’s circumstances can change as women are forced to navigate life Transitions and stresses. For example, if a partner suddenly has a more demanding job, it’s often expected that women will pick up the slack regardless of whether or not they have a career as well. If a child is sick at school, it’s almost always the woman who goes to pick them up and has to take time off work to take care of them. Women are expected to navigate life transitions and stress on their own.

Family Stress

It is not uncommon for women to struggle with poor mental health after family-related issues like:

  1. Child custody problems
  2. The birth of a new child
  3. The death of a loved one
  4. A divorce 

Family stress can be a significant risk factor for poor mental health in women’s circumstances. 

  • If there is a new birth in the family, regardless of what other obligations or careers she might have, a woman is often expected to navigate that new transition and handle the stress effectively without reaching out for help. This can lead to higher levels of things like postpartum depression.
  • Child care and home maintenance like cleaning and cooking are often family stresses that fall on women, and without shared responsibilities, it can cause women’s mental health issues.
  • Things like moving to a new location, changing schools, and other life transitions are often burdens placed on the shoulders of women who are expected to manage the majority of that transition and the stress.
  • Women are often required to have higher energy at home, maintaining a job while also caring for the family, and this leads to high levels of stress and methamphetamine addiction or cocaine abuse.
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-Accessing Mental Health Support and Resources

Women and mental health is a broad category of support and resources that not all women capitalize on. These gender-based challenges and silence struggle that come from trauma, or societal expectations can all be addressed with the right help.

  1. One option includes gender-based treatment programs from facilities that provide women’s only mental health or addiction recovery.
  2. Another option is gender-specific support groups for mental health issues or for family members struggling with life transitions.
  3. Women can seek individual therapy even if they are overwhelmed, dealing with postpartum depression, or trying to silently struggle through discrimination or trauma.

-Recognizing the Influence of Societal Expectations

Societal expectations influence men and women differently. Men might be expected to work hard and provide for their families, which can lead to high levels of stress and sleeping disorders, but women are expected to maintain a house, raise a family, support their spouse, and provide for the family to some degree.

Women are the ones often targeted if the house is messy if the laundry isn’t put away, if the children are poorly behaved if the food isn’t good, and if they aren’t thin and well put together. These types of inculcated influences from society can cause women’s mental health issues without women really being aware of them.

  • Women struggle with significantly higher anxiety and mood disorders compared to men.
  • Cocaine and methamphetamine abuse are often associated with women who are incentivized to lose weight and look thin. 

-Addressing Trauma and Gender-Based Violence

Women are more likely to struggle with trauma and gender-based violence like domestic abuse and discrimination or sexual abuse. These lead to issues and mental health in women’s circumstances that need to be addressed by a professional period.

Domestic Abuse

1 out of every 3 women experiences domestic violence at one point. Without getting the right help, this increases the risk of women developing secondary mental health disorders or addiction.


Women are more likely than men to face discrimination. This can happen:

  1. At home
  2. At work
  3. Within the community
  4. Or elsewhere

-Empowering Women Through Reproductive Health Awareness

Women should also be empowered through reproductive health awareness. 

  • There are online resources for women who need reproductive medication that is not allowed in their state. 
  • There are options for ordering things like birth control through subscription programs delivered directly to your home regardless of whether you have health insurance.

Reproductive health awareness is one of the most empowering components for women’s mental health because it gives them the knowledge that they are in control of what happens to their bodies and, subsequently, what happens to their future.

Summing Up

There are unique challenges in women’s mental health that extend to issues accessing resources, a history of trauma, limited reproductive health awareness, navigating family stress, and more. It’s imperative that women prioritize their mental health and get the care that they need no matter their circumstances.