Women and men tend to respond to stress in different ways. Women are more likely than men to focus on the negative emotional aspects of stressful circumstances, thinking over and over again (ruminating) about their negative emotional state whereas men tend to try and distance themselves from negative emotions and not think about them. Researchers at Yale University exposed 54 healthy social drinkers (27 men and 27 women) to stressful imagery then assessed their emotions, physiological responses and alcohol cravings. They found that the women experienced greater sadness, anxiety and physiological arousal than the men. However, for the men an increase in physiological arousal was associated with an increase in alcohol craving. These findings are consistent with earlier research and raise the concern that if this response becomes a pattern in men it could lead on to alcohol problems.
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