Advice to Clinicians: Mental Health Screening and Women

Women need to be routinely screened for depressive, eating, and anxiety disorders including PTSD.

Women tend to report higher levels of anxiety and somatic symptoms associated with depression.

Explicit details, especially related to traumatic subject matter that may make a woman uncomfortable, are not necessary early in the process.

For some women, drugs have had a secondary effect and purpose, i.e., weight management. Be aware that weight gain during recovery can be a concern and a relapse risk factor for women and that clinical and medical issues surrounding body image, weight management, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle habits are essential ingredients in treatment for women.

Bulimia nervosa is the most common eating disorder among women in substance abuse treatment, and counselors should become knowledgeable about the specific behavioral patterns associated with this disorder, e.g., compensatory and excessive exercise for overeating, routine pattern of leaving after meals, persistent smell of vomit on the woman's breath or in a particular bathroom, taking extra food (from dining room), or hoarding food, etc.

Be aware that women with bulimia nervosa are usually of normal weight.

From: 4 Screening and Assessment

Cover of Substance Abuse Treatment: Addressing the Specific Needs of Women
Substance Abuse Treatment: Addressing the Specific Needs of Women [Internet].
Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 51.
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