Women's Issues

Identifying as a woman can often be a source of joy and strength, but it also comes with its own unique challenges. Sexism against women is common in many cultures, and the stress of navigating the world as a woman can create a significant psychic burden. A robust body of research indicates that women are more likely than men to develop a range of mental health conditions.

For all of these reasons, many women prefer to work with therapists who either identify as women themselves or who have extensive experience working with women and bring a feminist lens to their work.

Therapy tailored to include attention to women’s issues can be a helpful source of support for any woman, whether or not your primary concerns relate directly to your female identity.

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Common mental health challenges among women

There’s no one mental health profile that fits all women, and it’s important to avoid categorizing symptoms along gender lines; women can experience all the same mental health symptoms that men do, and vice versa.

That said, some mental health symptoms that are especially common in women include:

Mental health and societal issues unique to women

Again, women can and do experience all of the same challenges as men, and addressing female identity may be a helpful component of therapy even when none of the below situations apply.

However, some common challenging scenarios relating to women’s issues include:

Prevalence and types of women’s issues

In general, it’s very common for women to experience mental health challenges, and women are more likely than men to face many common mental health conditions.

For example, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that both anxiety and depression are more common in women than men.

Trauma and violence against women are also significant sources of mental health challenges. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that women are more likely than men to be victims of intimate partner violence, with 1 in 4 women experiencing severe abuse as opposed to 1 in 9 men. Additionally, the American Psychological Association reports that women are more than twice as likely as men to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that many women struggle to seek help for their symptoms.

Cultural and societal factors can make day-to-day life more stressful for many women as well. A report from the Pew Research Center found that 56% of working mothers found balancing their work and family lives to be at least somewhat stressful, while mothers also spent more time than fathers, on average, on childcare and household tasks. Furthermore, sexist biases also pervade medical and psychological care, both historically and in the present day. This means that it may be harder for women to find appropriate treatment for mental health challenges. For example, the World Health Organization notes that gender stereotypes can lead to misdiagnosis and/or inappropriate prescriptions for women seeking mental health treatment.

The challenges of identifying as a woman are substantial and beyond the control of any one woman. Nonetheless, there are many options available to women seeking support around women’s issues:

What to look for in a therapist for women’s issues

Prioritize personal fit and experience

You’ll want to find a therapist who has experience working with women and who is comfortable incorporating a feminist perspective into therapy.

Determine which therapy type appeals to you

The following therapeutic modalities may be especially helpful for challenges related to women’s issues: