(NaturalNews) For reasons that are still largely unclear, women are much more likely than men to develop some form of mental illness during their lives, whether it be depression, schizophrenia, or simple anxiety, according to a new study. Based on an analysis of 12 large-scale epidemiological studies on mental illness, researchers from Oxford University determined that, when it comes down specifically to depression and anxiety disorders, women are as much as 75 percent more likely than men to suffer.
The studies used to make this determination were conducted all over the world, including in the U.K., the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Though not a formal meta-analysis, the final analysis of these studies involved comparing rates of mental illness among large numbers of people from all backgrounds and walks of life. The researchers were also careful to account for external factors that might tinge the data, such as the fact that men are less likely than women to seek help for psychological disorders.
When all was said and done, the team observed a very clear distinction between men and women in terms of mental illness prevalence. As it turns out, women are roughly 60 percent more likely than men to report an anxiety disorder, and 75 percent more likely than men to report depression. And overall, women were found to be between 20 and 40 percent more likely than men to suffer from any mental health condition, which is partially due to the fact that women generally handle their problems differently than men do.
"There is a pattern within - women tend to suffer more from what we call 'internal' problems like depression or sleep problems," says Professor Daniel Freeman, lead author and visionary behind the new book The Stressed Sex. "They take out problems on themselves, as it were, where men have externalizing problems, where they take things out on their environment, such as alcohol and anger problems."
Mental illness generally equal between sexes, insist others
On the flip side, some experts insist that the findings are overblown and not entirely accurate. Another professor from Manchester University, for instance, commenting on the study, says that the actual prevalence of mental illness is fairly balanced between the sexes. In her estimation, men and women are equally susceptible to mental illness, and that stress is not always a factor in determining mental health outcomes.
"In terms of survival, we're not exposed to stress compared with our ancestors," says Prof. Kathryn Abel, as quoted by the U.K. Guardian. "As a population, we are incredibly healthy, and in spite of continuing inequalities, we have never had it so good: women are living longer and more healthily than ever before - as are men."
"Some populations show lower rates of some of these arguably 'stress-related' disorders; in those countries women and men remain under far more hardship," she adds.
You can learn more about Prof. Freeman's new book, as well as watch videos of him explaining the situation in further detail, by visiting: http://www.psych.ox.ac.uk