Women More Likely To Experience Psychotic Episode Than Men, Study Finds

While mental illness is a very common in the entire population and among both sexes, which encompasses Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and less common illness like schizophrenia, a recent robust study of over 3,000 subjects shows that the relative lifetime incidence of true psychosis — meaning having hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that do not exist) or delusions (believing things that are not real, such as that you hold a famous title such as the pope, or are being followed by the FBI), is still rather low — only 5.8 percent. However, women still edge men out on lifetime experience odds, at 6.6 percent, and men at a mean of 5 percent. This discrepancy may be explained by post-partum psychosis, a rare and very dangerous mental illness complication after the birth of a baby that occurs in less than one percent of mothers who give birth.

However, there are still caveats to this study. One is that many may not report symptoms of hallucination or delusions because it is an area of mental illness that is especially fraught with negative stereotypes in an arena that fights stigma continuously, despite public education. The other is that certain mind-altering drugs may not be reported, which could skew the true incidence of non-drug related psychosis in the population.

The data was retrieved from the World Health Organization and was collected from 18 countries, most but not all industrialized. The researchers felt confident in their collection methods and results, according to Medical News Today.

“We have provided, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive description of the epidemiologic landscape of psychotic experiences (PEs) published to date. Although the lifetime prevalence of PEs is 5.8 [percent], these events are typically rare. […] The research community needs to leverage this fine-grained information to better determine how PEs reflect risk status. Our study highlights the subtle and variegated nature of the epidemiologic features of PEs and provides a solid foundation on which to explore the bidirectional relationship between PEs and mental health disorders.”

This information is not just important for psychiatrists — one could argue it’s more important for regular family physicians who provide general screenings for significant diseases and disorders. This may help those professionals serving certain populations who are at risk, as well as bring to the forefront of medicine that while it’s still not extremely common, it is common enough, and its potential consequences serious enough, for every health professional to carefully consider when interacting with a patient.

[Photo by Recovery Ranch]