Irish doctors have found that women are up to nine times more likely to experience an eating disorder than men. They are also four times more likely to experience stress-related mental health disorders like agoraphobia and panic disorder than men.
Professor Jim Lucey, the Medical Director of Saint Patrick's University Hospital told the press on Monday that studies have shown women are also likely to suffer for more than 10 years before being given a proper medical diagnosis, especially where anxiety is concerned, because it is more likely their symptoms will be dismissed rather than diagnosed.
"The reasons for this are entirely environmental, societal and cultural," Lucey said.
Admission rates to Saint Patrick's University Hospital in Dublin for 2010 show a higher proportion of women requiring inpatient services. There were 61.90% female admissions versus 38.10% male admissions, the hospital said.
"Stigmatic beliefs about people with mental illness are common," Professor Lucey said. "Many say people with an illness such as anxiety disorders are just worriers who should pull themselves together. The reality is very different."
Paul Gilligan, CEO at Saint Patrick's, said: "I would urge women everywhere to talk about mental health and to encourage those who need help to seek this help."
"We need to create a society in which mental health and mental illness is discussed openly and in which those requiring help feel empowered to seek this help," Gilligan added.