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Being a Woman Puts You at Higher Risk for These 5 Mental Disorders




Due to a mix of hormones, cultural pressures (e.g., "having it all"), and a higher risk for physical and emotional abuse, at least twice as many women as men are struck by these five disorders. Big life stressors like career changes, bad breakups, or car accidents are often the triggers; talk to your doctor if you suspect you're affected.

Symptoms: Near-constant sadness, sleep or appetite changes, and hopelessness

Treatments: Antidepressants, especially a class called SSRIs, can ease symptoms. Just as effective, per new research: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy that challenges negative thinking.

Symptoms: Racing thoughts, excessive worry, and restlessness

Treatments: CBT helps patients replace harmful thoughts ("I must be perfect") with more realistic ones ("Mistakes aren't the end of the world"). SSRIs can also help alleviate symptoms, often within 12 weeks.

Symptoms: Repeated, out-of-the-blue episodes of fear, accompanied by a rapid pulse or sweaty palms

Treatments: Therapists can teach patients calming belly breathing; M.D.s may prescribe fast-acting meds that boost brain-calming neurotransmitters.

Symptoms: Flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety

Treatments: Exposure therapy, in which a therapist walks patientsthrough traumatic memories; one type adds eye movements that weaken emotional recollections.

Symptoms: Extreme emotional reactions (especially to feelings of abandonment); self-destructive behaviors like unsafe sex

Treatments: A form of CBT that teaches alternatives to dangerous reactions, such as hitting a pillow with a Nerf bat.

This article was originally published in the May 2016 issue of Women's Health, on newsstands now. Go to our Mental Health Awareness center for more content like this and to find out how you can help break the stigma surrounding mental illness. 


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