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Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders: Gender and Sex Differences

The terms gender and sex are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction in psychology and psychological research: gender is used to refer to social constructions of men and women, whereas sex is used to refer to biological sex characteristics. This entry focuses more on sex-related differences because the research on somatization generally indicates notable sex-related differences. Females are consistently found to report more intense, frequent, and numerous bodily symptoms than are males. This is true for both physical symptoms with an identifiable cause and those that are medically unexplained, and these findings have been replicated in a variety of clinical and community-based settings. Similarly, sex-related differences for disorders of somatization have been well described by previous versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ...

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