Prevalence of Mental Disorders Linked to Gender Differences

Anxiety or depression more prevalent in women, substance abuse or antisocial disorders in men

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence rates of mental illness are associated with gender differences, with women having higher rates of anxiety or depression and men having higher rates of substance abuse or antisocial disorders, according to a study published online Aug. 15 in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Nicholas R. Eaton, from the University of Minnesota, and colleagues examined gender differences in the prevalence rates of common mental disorders in a nationally representative sample of 43,093 individuals aged 18 years and older, who participated in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and related conditions conducted in 2001 to 2002. The participants were interviewed about their lifetime and past one-year mental health histories.

The investigators found prevalent systematic gender differences, with women showing higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders and men showing higher rates of antisocial personality and substance use disorders. For the patterns of disorder comorbidity, it was observed that dimensional internalizing-externalizing liability model fit the data well, showing women with higher mean levels of internalizing characterized by mood and anxiety disorders and men with higher mean levels of externalizing characterized by antisocial personality and substance use disorders.

"We found that the underlying structure of common mental disorders was gender invariant, with significant gender differences in mean liability levels," the authors write.

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