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Stanford Medicine

Mental Health, Women's Health

Gender differences and mental health

Previous research has found that nearly 1 in 5 Californians suffer from mental health disorders and that, overall, women are nearly twice as likely as men to say they need help for emotional health conditions such as depression or anxiety. Now findings published online in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology may offer more insight into the role gender differences play in mental health issues.

In the study (subscription required), researchers examined survey data from 43,093 adults collected in 2001 and 2002 as part of a National Institutes of Health survey. The data were representative of the age, race, ethnicity and gender distributions of the United States population in the 2000 Census. In their analysis, researchers looked at respondents’ lifetime mental health history as well as over the prior 12 months. According to an American Psychological Association release, the study showed:

Women are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression, while men tend toward substance abuse or antisocial disorders … 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 authors hope the findings will be useful in developing more effective prevention strategies and treatment methods.

Previously: Breaking the silence about depression among men, Some 4.9 million Californians need help for mental health and Why are women more likely to need mental-health help?
Photo by Vinay Shivakumar

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