CogniFit's Science blog: Understanding The Mental Health Gender Gap

Understanding The Mental Health Gender Gap

Findings that were presented this month at the 2012 Women’s Health Conference by Medco Health Solutions show that women are using far more mental health drugs than men. 25% of women are using at least one psychotropic drug as compared to only 15% of men. The study was designed to review the pharmacy claims of more than two million insured Americans were using antidepressants, anti psychotics, anti anxiety medications and drugs to treat ADHD between 2001 and 2010.

For the most part women have always consumed more anti depressants than men. The more surprising part is how many women are taking these medications to treat various mental health disorders.

There is also an increase in drug usage by woman that they have not been historically been taking such as ADHD drugs. 21% of women are on anti depressants alone. There has been a huge increase in these types of mental health drugs in both sexes however. Mental health drug use in general is up 29% since the beginning of the decade.

Women also take a lot more anti anxiety drugs than men. Eleven percent of woman aged 45-64 were on an anti-anxiety medication which is nearly twice the rate of males. When you are looking at statistics on children far more boys than girls take ADHD medicine but in adult hood those numbers do a serious flip flop. One has to wonder why there is a such a flip flop and what changes in the brain of the two sexes that requires these medications.

The study concludes that mental health issues are a growing problem in America. This is probably a true statement but the study doesn’t take into account that there also may be an over diagnosis problem going on with doctors, patients and mental health disorders and drugs. Medco Health Solutions makes all of their money through prescription drug sales. So the conclusion seems somewhat self serving.

There is no doubt that mental health issues are a real problem in American and not enough time is dedicated to them. Proper diagnosis is key to people getting the help they need whether through medication or therapy. The amount of women taking various mental health pills is still pretty shocking and at the rate that number is growing it will become more and more of a problem.