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and treatment of mental illnesses.

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Women and Mental Health

Why is women’s mental health important?

Some mental disorders are more common in women than men, including depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders.

There are also disorders unique to women. For example, some women experience symptoms of depression at times of hormone change, such as: 

  • During or after pregnancy (perinatal depression)
  • Around the time of their period (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)
  • During the menopause transition (perimenopausal depression)

When it comes to other mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, research has not found sex differences in the rates at which they are diagnosed. But certain symptoms may be more common in women, and the course of illness can be affected by a person’s sex. Researchers are beginning to tease apart the various biological and psychosocial factors that may impact mental health.

Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Learn more about caring for your mental health.

What are symptoms of mental disorders in women?

Some common symptoms of mental disorders include:

  • Persistent sadness or feelings of hopelessness
  • Noticeable changes in mood, energy, or appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Misuse of alcohol, drugs, or both
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Excessive fear or worry
  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there
  • Extremely high and low moods
  • Aches, headaches, or digestive problems without a clear cause
  • Anger or irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts

Mental disorders can be treated: A primary care provider is a good place to start if you’re looking for help. They can refer you to a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or clinical social worker, who can help you figure out next steps. Find tips for talking with a health care provider about your mental health.

You can learn more about getting help on the NIMH website. You can also learn about finding support  and locating mental health services  in your area on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website. 

If you or someone you know is struggling or having thoughts of suicide, call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline  at 988 or chat at . In life-threatening situations, call 911.

Latest news

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Health topics and resources for women

Featured health topics

Featured brochures and fact sheets

Featured video

Watch this video to learn more about depression during the menopause transition, including signs and symptoms, causes, and treatment options. Read the transcript.

Federal resources

  • Depression Among Women : The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about depression among women, including risk factors for depression and postpartum depression.
  • Maternal Health : The Health Resources and Services Administration has programs and resources on maternal health, including depression during and after pregnancy.
  • Moms’ Mental Health Matters : The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development offers an action plan for depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after birth.
  • Maternal Morbidity & Mortality Web Portal : The NIH Office of Research on Women's Health offers resources for maternal health across the lifespan.
  • Office on Women’s Health: Mental Health : The Department of Health and Human Service’s Office on Women’s Health provides information on women’s mental health.
  • Women’s Health : The National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus has resources on the unique health issues women experience (en español ).

Health hotlines

  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline : This Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. Call or text 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. Support is also available via live chat . Para ayuda en español, llame al 988.
  • National Maternal Mental Health Hotline : This hotline offers free, confidential mental health support for moms and their families before, during, and after pregnancy. Call or text 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262) to connect with counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. English- and Spanish-speaking counselors are available.
  • Disaster Distress Helpline : This helpline provides immediate crisis counseling for people experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. The helpline is free, multilingual, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call or text 1-800-985-5990.
  • Veterans Crisis Line : This crisis line is a free, confidential resource for veterans of all ages and circumstances. Call 988 then press 1; text 838255; or chat online  to connect with 24/7 support.
  • NIH Health Info Lines 

Why should women participate in clinical trials?

Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. The goal of a clinical trial is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although people may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, they should know that the primary purpose is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others can be better helped in the future. 

Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct many studies with women. We have new and better treatment options today because of what clinical trials have uncovered. Talk to a health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you.

NIMH researchers are currently working to identify the causes of, treatments for, and predictors of mood disorders unique to women, including:

In addition to these disorders, NIMH researchers are also studying other mental disorders that affect women.

Our studies take place at the NIH Clinical Center  in Bethesda, Maryland, and require regular visits. If you don’t live nearby, you can find a clinical trial near you .

Sex and gender can influence health in important ways. You can help researchers learn more and advance health care for all people. NIMH is committed to ensuring that people have all the information they need to feel comfortable and make informed decisions before participating in a study.

Last Reviewed: April 2024

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