There is a well-documented 2:1 female-to-male sex difference in the prevalence of anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. In addition, the prevalence of multimorbidity (the co-occurrence of two or more chronic conditions) is higher in females compared to males, particularly the co-occurrence of mixed physical and psychological conditions. Thus, it is not surprising that certain medical conditions in which psychological disorders are commonly comorbid are over-represented in females.
Females also tend to rely on emotion-focused coping strategies in response to negative distress states, thus are more likely to develop reliance on cigarettes to relieve negative affect. They are also more likely to engage in emotional eating, which might in part contribute to elevated prevalence of chronic disease in females compared to males. Thus, our research aims to identify and understand unique risk factors that contribute to psychological health and in turn, poor physical health in females. Our recent research is focused on biological mechanisms that influence females’ ability to adaptively regulation emotional states, and its link to health behaviors.