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(Bayer, 1987) The actual incidence of morbidity is hard to assess accurately.Firstly because doctors tend to under-diagnose positive psychiatric morbidity and secondly because there is a general reluctance to seek medical help with this type of complaint.Castle (et al 2001) spend a large proportion of their book differentiating the male and female brain in terms of the effect of testosterone on neurodevelopment.
Women and mental health is a vast topic and we do not presume to cover all aspects of it within the confines of this essay.
We will, however, explore a number of relevant themes in some detail by particular reference to peer reviewed literature on the subject.
(Castle DJ et al 2001) It is also fair to comment that an examination of the literature seems to suggest that the morbidity which appears to be associated with mental disorders has been the subject of more attention and research than the actual determinants and mechanisms that appear to be significant in both the promotion of mental health, and protection against mental illness, together with those factors which appear to give a degree of resilience against stress and other adversities which are gender specific. We do know that a number of psychiatric illnesses have different rates of presentation.
Some, such as schizophrenia have gender differential modes of presentation and illness trajectory (Kornstein S & Clayton A 2002). A number of authors point to various features of gender difference that may account for this difference.
In many societies this is also translated into lower social status that the male and this is often also associated with fewer social freedoms - all of which may be associated with an increasing psychological co-morbidity.
(Gordon G et al 2001) There is also the consideration that in the majority of cultures, it is the woman who typically bears the major impact of care in the family, not only of the children, but also of the elderly relatives, and this frequently produces constant and unremitting levels of stress, which again, is recognised as a major trigger for psychological morbidity.
Alcohol abuse and dependence will occur 2.5 times more frequently in men than women.
It is not certain whether these changes are primarily cultural or biological, as they do vary to a degree between different cultures, but the sex difference is generally found.
In doing so, we recognise the fact that it is vital to make a critical assessment of the literature as, in any branch of medically related work, it is vital to acquire a firm evidence base. Much of the literature that we have assessed for consideration amounts to little more than simple opinion on a subject, and as such, is only of use as an opinion rather than a fact that has been subject to proper scientific scrutiny. In this essay we take note of opinions but aim to present verifiable facts.
We do know that mental illness in the UK is associated with a significant burden of both disability and morbidity in general, and this will vary with both the severity of the illness at any given time and also the nature of the illness itself. A number of studies have shown that, as a lifetime experience, nearly half of the population will suffer some kind of quantifiable psychological or psychiatric disorder.