“Psychiatric Labels Plague Women’s Mental Health”

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At Women’s eNews, Paula J. Caplan argues in an op-ed that: “women are over-diagnosed with psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. Many problems, she writes, are not inside women’s heads. They are in external conditions crying out for remedy.” Here is an excerpt:

May is mental-health awareness month, but sadly, much of the publicity and public “education” connected with it consists of trying to persuade people they are mentally ill and need medication and psychotherapy. What is little known but frightening is the damage often done to many women simply by giving them psychiatric diagnoses.

Because they received psychiatric diagnoses, women have lost health insurance or had skyrocketing premiums, lost jobs, lost the right to make decisions about their medical and legal affairs and lost, or nearly lost, their lives. Last month, a woman on the West Coast went to court after losing child custody on the basis of having been psychiatrically labeled.

An enormous amount of research–including in the 2004 book I edited, “Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis”–has shown that women are at even greater risk than men of attracting many serious psychiatric labels.

Even women who never enter a therapist’s office run the risk of being branded by family or friends with one type of demeaning non-psychiatric label or another, such as “cold, bitchy and rejecting” or “overemotional, overly sensitive and needy,” so that even an average woman’s emotions and behavior look pretty terrible compared to those of an average man. It should not be surprising, then, that the psychiatric field is riddled with diagnoses that are used to demean and pathologize women.

Read the entire piece here.

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