Gender and mental illness

There are, of course, plenty of issues surrounding the issue of gender and mental health, many of which I'm not qualified to discuss. There are issues with diagnosis and treatment, but there are also issues with how men and women experience mental illness.

A few weeks ago, the New York Times did a wonderful piece on PTSD in female combat veterans, and how their experiences differ from mens'. The disorder wasn't renamed PTSD-she and PTSD-he because men and women had different experiences coming home and living with their demons.

Very unlike the phenomenon of "manorexia." It's the same disease. Not that we shouldn't pay attention to and learn from men's expiences of eating disorders, but that doesn't mean their suffering is somehow different than a woman's. True, there hasn't been quite the same gender-based stigma in PTSD, which may account for some of the difference.

Two individuals are never going to have the exact same experience with an illness. That's not how life works. This doesn't mean that they don't have the same illness, just that we all experience things differently.

I hope the world out there can one day see the differences in EDs in men and women the same as they do with PTSD: same illness, different experiences.

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2 comments:

marcella said...

1% of breast cancer sufferers are male, and yet they don't change the name of that for the sufferers either - just acknowledge that sometimes their experiences may be different from that of women.

Cathy (UK) said...

Arrgh, I despise the term 'manorexia' - primarily because it is making a mockery of a serious mental illness - i.e. anorexia nervosa. 'Tanorexia', 'pregorexia' etc. provide an equally horrendous play on words.

No doctor or journalist would ever apply such ridiculous terminology, or make a mockery of physical illness...

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote



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