Women's mental health in the Muslim world: cultural, religious, and social issues

J Affect Disord. 2007 Sep;102(1-3):177-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2006.09.027. Epub 2007 Feb 8.


In Arab communities, several cultural factors, derived mainly from the subordinate position of women, have been shown to affect the prevalence, clinical picture, health seeking behaviour, course and management of psychopathology in women. Women are definitely at a greater risk of developing mental disorders such as depressive, somatoform, anxious or eating disorders, as well as suicidal behaviors. Furthermore, mentally ill women are more stigmatized, have less access to care and suffer from a worse social outcome. This paper describes a series of culture-related risk factors such as education, work, sexuality, marriage, and infertility, which significantly contribute to triggering mental disorders in females, or to worsen their course and outcome. The authors recommend that mental health providers should play a critical role by addressing the cultural as well as psychological conditions that create and maintain threats to women's mental health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Islam*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Menstruation / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Prejudice*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Environment*