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Study Finds Mental Illness Differs By Sex; Women Ruminate More

Women internalize emotions more than men, a new study finds
Women internalize emotions more than men, a new study finds

Here's the press release from the American Psychological Association:

WASHINGTON – When it comes to mental illness, the sexes are different: Women are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression, while men tend toward substance abuse or antisocial disorders, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

Published online in APA’s Journal of Abnormal Psychology, the study looked at the prevalence by gender of different types of common mental illnesses. The researchers also found that women with anxiety disorders are more likely to internalize emotions, which typically results in withdrawal, loneliness and depression. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to externalize emotions, which leads to aggressive, impulsive, coercive and noncompliant behavior, according to the study. The researchers demonstrated that it was differences in these liabilities to internalize and to externalize that accounted for gender differences in prevalence rates of many mental disorders....

The authors cited previous research that found women suffer more than men from depression, because “women ruminate more frequently than men, focusing repetitively on their negative emotions and problems rather than engaging in more active problem solving.”

...past research also indicated that women report more neuroticism and more frequent stressful life events than men do before the onset of a disorder, indicating that environmental stressors may also contribute to internalizing, the report said.

The release quotes lead author Nicholas R. Eaton, MA, of the University of Minnesota saying the finding may lead to gender-specific treatment: “In women, treatment might focus on coping and cognitive skills to help prevent rumination from developing into clinically significant depression or anxiety. In men, treatment for impulsive behaviors might focus on rewarding planned actions and shaping aggressive tendencies into non-destructive behavior.”

This program aired on August 18, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Health Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for Bostonomix.

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