Men are more likely than women to drink alcohol when they are upset, according to new research.
Scientists at Yale University found that after listening to a stressful story women reported more sadness and anxiety than men.
But for men the emotional arousal was linked to increases in alcohol craving.
The researchers say that the men studied drank more alcohol than the women on average, resulting in men having more experience with alcoholic drinks and potentially leading to them using alcohol as a way of coping with distress.
They studied the reactions of 54 healthy adult social drinks to three types of imaginary scripts: stressful; alcohol-related; and neutral/relaxing.
Emotions, behavioral/bodily responses, cardiovascular arousal and self-reported alcohol craving were analyzed.
Researcher Tara Chaplin said the fact men drink more alcohol when upset could be a 'learned behavior' or could be 'related to known gender differences in reward pathways in the brain'.
'Women are more likely than men to focus on negative emotional aspects of stressful circumstances, for example, they tend to 'ruminate' or think over and over again about their negative emotional state,' she said.
'Men, in contrast, are more likely to distract themselves from negative emotions, to try not to think about these emotions.
'Our finding that men had greater blood pressure response to stress, but did not report greater sadness and anxiety, may reflect that they are more likely to try to distract themselves from their physiological arousal, possibly through the use of alcohol.'
The study is published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
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