Image Source: Human Health Project
By Taylah Pomery
Recent information released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics states that Australian females aged between 15 and 24 are 50 per cent more likely to experience an anxiety-related mental illness than males.
According to the same study, men and women commonly show equal results in other mental and behavioural conditions.
The study revealed that 19 per cent of females in the age group were suffering from anxiety related illnesses, compared to only 8 per cent of males in the same age group.
Beyond Blue states that one in three women will experience anxiety in their lifetime, with rates of other mental illnesses also being at a higher rate for women, such as eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Negative life experiences – infertility and perinatal loss, poverty, discrimination, violence, unemployment and isolation – also impact on women’s mental health and wellbeing. Unequal economic and social conditions also contribute to women’s higher risk of depression,” Beyond Blue states.
Beyond Blue also states there are some major life factors that can contribute to this higher rate of anxiety in women, such as discrimination, violence or abuse, infertility, prenatal loss, and pregnancy.
Claudia Melino, an occupational therapist specialising in mental health, suggests that there may be other reasons as to why there is this peak in anxiety with young women.
“I believe that the stresses society, family, and even the school system is putting on these girls in high school can largely contribute to this statistic,” she said.
“Women and young girls are expected to not only succeed in school, but to over succeed in order to be shown any recognition, and this can be coming from their families, the school or society as a whole.”
Ms Melino also said that the rise in social media and a feminist viewpoint may also be a contributing factor.
“[What] I particularly feel with this rise is social media showing all these young girls successful women encouraging them to do the same in order to express this feminist standpoint, may be doing the opposite effect and creating more pressure,” she said.
While societal pressures could be a contributing factor towards women being more prone to anxiety than men, professionals also believe it can be due to a chemical imbalance.
“Of course I don’t want to deny the fact that sometimes illnesses, such as depression and anxiety can be purely a chemical imbalance. One’s social environment could be perfectly fine and they could still experience symptoms of anxiety,” Ms Melino said.
Jenny*, an individual who has experienced anxiety, states that this increased number of women experiencing anxiety could be due to pressures towards women in the workplace.
“I feel my anxiety stemmed from some inequalities happening in my workplace, and I felt that I could not react or say anything about this as my opinion would not be taken seriously,” she said.
For help contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.
*Name of people and places have been changed for privacy reasons.