The Past and Present of Women’s Mental Health Issues and Diagnosis

The history on women’s mental health has been a varied and biased. What is more is that diagnosis are still biased toward women and include a stigma attached to them as well.  Early diagnosis and treatments included barbaric and even inhumane methods while attaching the identifier of demon to those plagued by mental health illness and even deeming that women were weak and easily influenced. Hippocrates was the first to identify mental health issues as more scientific than spiritual, and as a result, the classification of the illness began to evolve.  Although treatments are no longer inhumane and barbaric, the issue of diagnosis bias remains. APA task forces have evaluated and re-evaluated the bias of diagnosis yet the current edition of the DSM is still argued that biases exist. Statistically, women are diagnosed more than men when it comes to depressive or mood disorders in the current day and questions are being posed as to why and what the justification may be.









Keywords: mental health, mental illness, women’s mental health, history of women’s metal health, diagnosis gender bias, DSM, treatment, gender, bias



























  1. History of Women’s Mental Health
  2. Diagnosis (Tasca, Rapetti, Carta, Fadda 2012)
    1. Magical
    2. Scientific
  3. Beliefs (Tasca, Rapetti, Carta, Fadda 2012)
    1. Uterus movement
    2. Hysteria
  4. Early Treatments (Stanley 2016)
    1. Natural remedies
    2. Exorcism
    3. Death
  5. Treatment Evolution (Stanley 2016)
    1. Lobotomy
    2. Sterilizarion
    3. Clitoridectomy
    4. Workhouse/Madhouse/Asylum
    5. Purgeing, bloodletting, blistering


  1. Present Day Women’s Mental Health
  1. Common Diagnosis (Sprock, Yoder 1997)
    1. Depression
    2. Anxiety
    3. Mood disorder
  2. Diagnosis Gender Bias (Pryor 1996)
    1. APA task force
    2. Biased Task Force
  3. DSM issues (Skodol, Bender 2003; Hallett 2015; Eriksen, Kress 2008; Rossler 2010)
    1. Symbiotic contact with mother
    2. Weak and damaged self


III. Conclusion


Early women’s mental health was not considered a disease as it is today.  Often times, it was deemed that the woman was possessed, a demon, or a witch and they were often exorcised or put to death due to the lack of understanding that mental health illness was not the uterus moving around the body.  As scientific understanding somewhat advanced, treatments did not become any more civilized. Diagnosis was always geared toward women and it seems as though that even with updated of diagnosis and DSM controversy and reviews, the bias still remains.







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