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Psychotherapy for women can help patients overcome mental illnesses and emotional disturbances. Experts believe that some mental illnesses are more likely to affect women than men. These illnesses typically include eating disorders, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, and depression. Women are also believed to be more vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, the trauma of which can lead to psychological symptoms. Psychotherapy for women is often similar to psychotherapy for men, though it usually takes into account the specialized ways in which mental illness can affect women, and the special mental health issues that women often face.
Some medical professionals believe female physiology can make women more vulnerable to certain types of mental illness. Physical factors in female mental illness can include the hormonal changes that happen during the course of the menstrual cycle, or with pregnancy or menopause. Other experts theorize that women are more vulnerable to mood and anxiety disorders because of gender-based social conditioning. They point out that, while anxiety disorders and depression are typically more common in women, men seem more likely to develop mental illnesses characterized by violent, antisocial behaviors. Men may also be more likely than women to develop substance abuse disorders.
Women may be more prone to depressive disorders because of hormonal changes related to reproduction and the reproductive cycle. Some experts believe menopause puts women at a higher risk for depressive and eating disorders. This may be due to hormonal changes that affect mood. The changes in body shape and signs of aging that normally begin to appear around menopause may also contribute to depression and eating disorders in middle-aged women. Psychotherapy for women at this time of life may help ease any depressive symptoms or eating disorders that arise.
Physical and sexual abuse of women can also contribute to the development of mental disorders. In general, women are considered more vulnerable to abuse, both in childhood and adulthood. Many women face traumatic experiences such as rape, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. These experiences can contribute to mental illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and anxiety disorders. Psychotherapy for women may help victims of abuse and harassment cope with their psychological trauma more efficiently, since it is often more sensitive to these experiences, and may typically be administered by sympathetic female professionals.
Women may need specialized therapeutic techniques due to differences in the female perception of psychological disorders and self-expression. Psychotherapy for women typically considers that many women may not want to discuss psychological trauma or other mental health issues with men. Some women may even find it difficult to discuss problems at all. It will also often consider that women may be more likely to blame themselves for mental illness symptoms and interpersonal problems. As a result, psychotherapy tends to place a strong emphasis on encouragement and social support.
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