Therapy By Gender

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PsychotherapyAccording to new research, it looks like women with chronic physical illnesses are more likely to use seek mental health services than men who have similar issues.  In addition, they tend to seek out said services on average six months earlier than their male counterparts.  It’s no surprise that chronic mental illnesses can lead to depression, and therefore psychologists want to better understand who will seek mental help when diagnosed with chronic physical illness so that they can better help those who need care the most.

The findings of this study, published in the British Medical Journal’s Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, analysed people diagnosed with at least one of four physical illnesses: diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Researchers discovered that among those with at least one of these various illnesses, women were 10% more likely to use mental health services than men were.  In addition, within any three-year period, women with physical illness used medical services for mental health treatment a full six months earlier than men.

These results don’t necessarily mean that more focus should be paid to women, however.  There still needs to be more research done to fully understand this gender divide and why it exists.  The results could imply that women have less of a problem seeking mental health support than men do.  Alternatively, however, this discrepancy might mean that symptoms are worse among women, which means that more women need to seek help and sooner, or that men simply defer seeking treatment for such concerns.  The study used data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, physician claims and inpatient medical records from ICES.  Mental illness service use was defined as one visit to a physician or specialist for mental health reasons, including depression, anxiety, smoking addiction or marital difficulties.

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