Childhood conduct disorder and adult antisocial personality disorder as well as substance use disorders are more common in men. Many mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders are more common in women. One explanation is that men externalize stress while women internalize it. Gender differences vary to some degree for different cultures. Women are more likely than men to show unipolar depression. One 1987 study found little empirical support for several proposed explanations, including biological ones, and argued that when depressed women tend to ruminate which may lower the mood further while men tend to distract themselves with activities. This may develop from men and women being raised differently.
Men and women do not differ on their overall rates of psychopathology, however, certain disorders are more prevalent in women, and vice versa. Women have higher rates of anxiety and depression (internalizing disorders) and men have higher rates of substance abuse and antisocial disorders (externalizing disorders). It is believed that divisions of power and the responsibilities set upon each sex are critical to this predisposition. Namely, women earn less money than men do, they tend to have jobs with less power and autonomy, and women are more responsive to problems of people in their social networks. These three differences can contribute to women's predisposition to anxiety and depression. It is believed that socializing practices that encourage high self-regard and mastery would benefit the mental health of both men and women.
One study interviewed 18,572 respondents, aged 18 and over, about 15 phobic symptoms. These symptoms would yield diagnoses based on criteria for agoraphobia, social phobia, and simple phobia. Women had significantly higher prevalence rates of agoraphobia and simple phobia, however there were no differences, found between men and women, in social phobia. The most common phobias for both men and women involved spiders, bugs, mice, snakes, and heights. The biggest differences between men and women in these disorders, were found on the agoraphobic symptoms of “going out of the house alone” and “being alone,” and on two simple phobic symptoms, involving the fear of “any harmless or dangerous animal” and “storms,” respectively for men and women. There were no differences in the age of onset, reporting a fear on the phobic level, telling a doctor about symptoms, or the recall of past symptoms.
One study interviewed 2,181 people in Detroit, aged 18–45, seeking to explain gender differences in exposure to traumatic events and in the development or emergence of post traumatic stress disorder following this exposure. It was found that lifetime prevalence of traumatic events was a little higher in men than in women. However, following exposure to a traumatic event, the risk for PTSD was two times higher in women. It is believed this difference is due to the greater risk women have of developing PTSD after a traumatic event that involved assaultive violence. In fact, the probability of a woman developing PTSD following assaultive violence was 36% compared to 6% of men. The duration of PTSD is longer in women, as well.
Men and women are both equally likely at developing symptoms of schizophrenia, but the onset occurs earlier for men. It has been suggested that sexually dimorphic brain anatomy, the differential effects of estrogens and androgens, and the heavy exposure of male adolescents to alcohol and other toxic substances can lead to this earlier onset in men. It is believed that estrogens have a protective effect against the symptoms of schizophrenia. Although, it has been shown that other factors can contribute to the delayed onset and symptoms in women, estrogens have a large effect, as can be seen during a pregnancy. In pregnancy, estrogen levels are rising in women, so women who have had recurrent acute episodes of schizophrenia did not usually break down. However, after pregnancy, when estrogen levels have dropped, women tend to suffer from postpartum psychoses. Also, psychotic symptoms are exacerbated when during the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels are at their lowest. In addition, estrogen treatment has yielded beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia.
Pathological gambling has been known to a higher prevalence rate, 2:1, in men to women. One study chose to identify gender-related differences by examining male and female gamblers, who were using a gambling helpline. There was 562 calls placed, and of this amount, 62.1% were men, and 37.9% were women. Male gamblers were more likely to report problems with strategic forms of gambling (blackjack or poker), and female gamblers were more likely to report problems with nonstrategic forms, such as slots or bingo. Male gamblers were also more likely to report a longer duration of gambling than women. Female gamblers were more likely to report receiving mental health treatment that was not related to gambling. Male gamblers were more likely to report a drug problem or being arrested on account of gambling. There were high rates of debt and psychiatric symptoms related to gambling observed in both groups of men and women.
There are also differences regarding gender and suicide. Males in Western societies are much more likely to die from suicide despite females having more suicide attempts.
The "extreme male brain theory" views autism as an extreme version of male-female differences regarding "systemizing" and empathizing abilities. The "imprinted brain theory" argues that autism and psychosis are contrasting disorders on a number of different variables and that this is caused by an unbalanced genomic imprinting favoring paternal genes (autism) or maternal genes (psychosis).
Read more about this topic: Sex And Psychology
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