Report: Depression in women doubles since the 1970s as they 'try to have it all'
Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression compared with 40 years ago because they are trying to juggle families and careers, European researchers claim. As many as one in seven will be affected by the condition at some point in their lives – more than double the number of men who will be.
Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression compared with 40 years ago because they are trying to juggle families and careers, researchers claim.
As many as one in seven will be affected by the condition at some point in their lives – more than double the number of men who will be.
Scientists say that the strain of trying to cope with having a family and pursuing a career is leaving women with a ‘tremendous burden’.
Researchers who have studied the extent of mental health problems across Europe say rates of depression in women have doubled since the 1970s.
They found that women are most at risk from the age of 16 to 42, when they tend to have children.
These age groups have between 10 and 13.4 per cent chance of developing depression – twice as high as men in the same age bracket.
Professor Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, who led the study, said: ‘In depression you see this 2.6 times higher rate amongst females. ‘There are clusters in the reproductive years between the ages of 16 to 42.
‘In females you see these incredibly high rates of depressive episodes at the time when they are having babies, where they raise children, where they have to cope with the double responsibilities of having a job and a family.
‘This is what is causing the tremendous burden.
‘It’s the effect on the females who can’t care any more for their family and are trying to be active in their profession, which is one of these major drivers of these higher rates.
‘We have seen compared to the 1970s a doubling of depressive episodes amongst females.
‘It happened in the 1980s and 1990s, there are no further increases now.
‘It’s now levelling off, it’s pretty much stabilised but it’s much much higher than the 1970s.'
The German researchers looked at the extent of mental health problems including dementia, eating disorders and even insomnia across the continent using previous studies and surveys.
Their work, which is published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, found that 38 per cent of people are suffering from some form of mental illness. The most common of these are depression, insomnia, phobias and dementia in old age.
Findings are part of a larger report prepared by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) and the European Brain Council (EBC)
This major landmark study prepared by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) and the European Brain Council (EBC), under the co-ordination of ECNP vice-president Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, sheds new light on the state of Europe’s mental and neurological health. The study demonstrates the degree to which mental disorders have become Europe’s largest health challenge in the 21st century and that the majority remain untreated. Taken together with the large and increasing number of “disorders of the brain,” the true size and burden is even significantly higher.
This study covers 30 countries (the European Union plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway), with a combined population of 514 million people, and encompasses all major mental disorders, including (amongst others) depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, insomnia, addiction and schizophrenia, as well as several neurological disorders, including stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
The study also identifies the critical challenges to improved basic and clinical research on mental and neurological disorders in the region.