When you look at the types of mental health problems young women face, the more common disorders such as depression and anxiety are, as you might expect, widespread. But what is perhaps especially shocking is the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder, which one in seven young women experience. Far from this being a condition solely affecting veterans returning from wars, young women are being traumatised by sexual and physical violence and abuse on the streets, in our schools and in their homes.
According to a study released in May, women report feelings of and are diagnosed with depression at far higher rates than men, starting at an age far younger than previously thought. Dr. Rachel Salk, along with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that adolescent women receive depression diagnoses about three times as often as young men do. This gap narrows in the 20s and 30s, but women are labeled “clinically depressed” at nearly twice the rate of their male counterparts.
A 2015 study published by the American Psychological Association asked 327 female veterans in Southern California about their experiences with sexual trauma. They divided the respondents into two groups — those who served before the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, and those in uniform afterward. Nearly half of those in the earlier group reported sexual contact against their will during their military service. In the later group, reports of unwanted sexual contact dropped to 30 percent.