February 1979

Psychiatric Disorders Among Professional Women

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(2):169-173. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780020059005

• A group of 111 women physicians and 103 women PhDs, selected from the general community, were studied for the presence of psychiatric illness. Fifty-one percent of the MDs and 32% of the PhDs were diagnosed as having primary affective disorder (P <.01). Other psychiatric disorders were found in less than 10% of each group. Depression among the psychiatrists was significantly more common (73%) than among the other physicians (46%).

More than 50% of all the women reported prejudice in training or employment, and depressed subjects reported prejudice more often than well subjects.

The presence of children and depression were shown to disrupt a woman's professional career.

The finding of a high prevalence of affective disorder among women physicians is consistent with the reported excessive suicide risk for this group.