It is well known that in any medical procedure or medical examination they look at males and females differently. This means their brain and biological characteristics are different. These differences cause social and cultural influences known as gender roles. So when looking at treatments and help for health diseases and mental disorders, researchers have to look at the social and cultural differences and the affects that it causes to individual people in a generalized group. This paper will analyse and detail the differences that the genders, particularly focusing on females, have and the effects it has on specific areas such as health disease and mental and emotional disorders.
First, lets define and explain sex and gender. For our definition let’s take it from the article “Clinical epidemiology of Alzheimer’s disease: assessing sex and gender differences” by Michelle M. Mielke, Prashanthi Vemuri, and Walter A. Rocca, that suggests that biological characteristics are the biggest factor here. XX and XY chromosomes and “biological differences” is sex where as gender is more “socially and culturally” constructed. This means gender is an expressive way of viewing oneself apart from the biological way of viewing oneself. Gender is more blue and pink colored clothing while sex is looking at if they have more testosterone or estrogen kind of hormones. The debate sometimes goes on if both are the same but looking at dictionary.com it defines it the same as it was explained by Mielke,Vemuri, and Rocca in the article. So in this paper when spoken about males and females it means biological males and females who also define their gender as male and female.
Now that the definitions of both sex and gender have been cleared, the importance of health disease has to be spoken about. Alzheimer’s is a disease that impacts, according to the same article mentioned earlier, “Clinical epidemiology of Alzheimer’s disease: assessing sex and gender differences”, “More than 5 million people in the US alone”(Mielke,Vemuri and Rocca). This disease not only impacts those 5 million people alone but the family and friends of those members affected by the disease. It is known alzheimer’s affects more females than males. Taken by the Alzheimer’s Association, “Of the 5.3 million people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s in the United States, 3.3 million are women and 2.0 million are men”. But why? Exercise, smoking, and intellectual lifestyle are the top categories mentioned in the “Clinical epidemiology of Alzheimer’s disease: assessing sex and gender differences” article. The article paper talks about a study done on women. It states that exercise in both age groups of teenagers as well as 30-50 years of age is important but, that exercise in the age of their brain still maturing, meaning teenagers, is more likely to reduce alzheimer’s. Now, before it seems like these have nothing to do with gender, one has to look closely. Gender is characterized by social influences. Meaning exercise is seen to be done more by boys than girls, especially at a young age. Girls play with friends sitting down with tea,barbies or so on. Boys on the other hand play with their cars running around and are also more likely to be encouraged to play sports.
Smoking is the other category that is mentioned. The claim is that smoking is increasing in females which in result means the rise in alzheimer’s in females.”In 2009, 23.5% of men and 17.9% of women were current smokers. In 1965, 51.9% of men versus 33.9% of women smoked.”(Mielke,Vemuri and Rocca). This means that smoking is increasing in females which then, looking at the facts, shows that alzheimer’s is increasing in females as well. So is it more than just a coincidence?
The third category is the intellectual lifestyle. Males were more likely to get higher and better education than women back then since they had more strict different gender roles than currently. Though the area and country does matter the age matters greatly as well. The most common age groups of getting alzheimer’s are the maturing ages, this means that it’s the “70 and older who are now at greatest risk of developing AD”(Mielke,Vemuri and Rocca). Their lifestyles matter to this research because, though it would seem women were home and had more self taught knowledge through books, men still had greater educational opportunities. According to the article “The new science of cognitive sex differences” by David I. Miller and Diane F. Halpern, “ overrepresentation of males among high mathematics performers decreased during the 1980s, but has not been decreasing since the 1990s”.(Miller,Halpern). Education is healthy to the brain which explains why this topic of intellectual lifestyle is important. This shows both biological and social differences between both genders.
That was an important example of health disease. Does this mean mental disorders are completely diminished by the claim that males and females differ by their social influences and in result particular disorders and diseases? No, of course not. The article by Afifi Mustafa “Gender differences in mental health” talks a lot about depressive and anxiety disorders, domestic violence and physical abuse, as well as eating disorders. The article claims women have more of a problem with lack of confidence and also more problems with no social support compared to men with no social support. If dugged deeply enough it is easy to see why that may be. Not everything is a blame to society but women seem to be portrayed more with friends, especially female friends and lacking more male friends, and also with billboards, movies, and so on with “perfected” role models it would make sense why females are more self conscious. Then comes childbirth and, “The prevalence of major or minor depression among pregnant women ranges from 7% to 26%.”(Mustafa). More depression arises during and after pregnancy which may affect their lives in work and or their homes. Jobs may not be so understanding creating excessive stress to the woman.
Lastly, comes the situations with domestic violence. Though it affects males, it affects females more. Mustafa explains how Arab countries don’t provide the help females need especially during hard times such as domestic violence. This results clearly in many mental and emotional problems and disorders. The article states in the conclusion that, “The pervasive violation of women’s rights, including their reproductive rights, contributes directly to the growing burden of disability caused by poor mental health.”(Mustafa). Stress and lifestyle is a big issue talked about in doctors offices which means there’s a reason behind it. If one of these isn’t going well then body may be in harm. In the article “Spatiotemporal analysis of relative convergence of EEGs reveals differences between brain dynamics of depressive women and men”, Ahmadlou, Mehran, Hojjat Adeli, and Amir Adeli conduct a study which “represents reduced frontotemporal connectivity in men with depression compared to women with depression. The reduced frontotemporal connectivity in males with depression may be associated with reduction in gray matter density.”(Mehran, Hojjat Adeli and Amir Adeli). This means that not only is there a social influence but of course a biological difference of how it is seen in the brain because males and females do have different brains.In conclusion, it can clearly be seen that the social and cultural influences significantly impact females and even though this paper didn’t focus on it, it impacts males just as much. It would make it extremely more simple to view the biological health differences with no social differences, again benefitting researchers and regular people with their health issues. With doctors and researchers lacking knowledge it greatly intervenes with the help necessary to both parties. Though this paper is not a feminist paper it can give claim to stop the differences between genders and instead focus on the individuals. Both biological and social influences play a big role in one’s health. Both have to be recognized and researched more thoroughly.
Afifi, Mustafa. “Gender differences in mental health.” Singapore medical journal 48.5 (2007): 385.
Ahmadlou, Mehran, Hojjat Adeli, and Amir Adeli. “Spatiotemporal analysis of relative convergence of EEGs reveals differences between brain dynamics of depressive women and men.” Clinical EEG and neuroscience 44.3 (2013): 175-181.
Mielke, Michelle M., Prashanthi Vemuri, and Walter A. Rocca. “Clinical epidemiology of Alzheimer’s disease: assessing sex and gender differences.” Clin Epidemiol 6 (2014): 37-48.
Miller, David I., and Diane F. Halpern. “The new science of cognitive sex differences.” Trends in cognitive sciences 18.1 (2014): 37-45.
Alzheimer’s Association. “2017 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia (2017)