Toronto: Men look at negative emotions with a more “passive” point of view while women tend to focus more on feelings – thus suffering more from depression and anxiety than men, a new study has found.
This happens because of subtle differences in brain function that is different in both genders.
“A stronger connection between brain areas in men suggests they have a more analytical than emotional approach when dealing with negative emotions,” said Stephane Potvin, associate professor at University of Montreal’s department of psychiatry.
“It is possible that women tend to focus more on the feelings generated by brain stimuli while men remain somewhat ‘passive’ toward negative emotions, trying to analyse the stimuli and their impact,” he explained.
Potvin and Adrianna Mendrek, lead researcher from the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréa, observed that certain areas of the brains in women and men that deal with emotions react differently when exposed to negative images.
For the study, 46 healthy participants – including 25 women – viewed images and said whether these evoked positive, negative or neutral emotions.
At the same time, their brain activity was measured by brain imaging.
The researchers found that subjective ratings of negative images were higher in women compared to men.
Higher testosterone levels were linked to lower sensitivity while higher feminine traits were linked to higher sensitivity.
“Greater emotional reactivity in women may explain many things, such as their being twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders compared to men,” Mendrek added.
“We will now look at how the brains of men and women react depending on the type of negative emotion (fear, sadness, anger) and the role of the menstrual cycle in this reaction,” the authors noted in a paper published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.