Stressful events, personality, and mood disturbance: Gender differences in alcoholics and problem drinkers

Andrea C. King*, Nancy C. Bernardy, Katherina Hauner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


The present study examined relationships among stressful events, personality characteristics, and affective status in males and females of various alcohol drinking patterns. We examined a total of 154 participants from three distinct alcohol subgroups: alcohol dependent, problem drinker, and light social drinker. These subjects did not meet criteria for any concurrent nonalcohol comorbid psychiatric disorder. The study included an alcohol quantity-frequency interview and self-report questionnaires on stressful life events, depressive symptoms, trait anxiety, and personality characteristics. Results showed female alcoholics reported significantly greater depression, anxiety, and neuroticism compared to their male counterparts (and all other drinking groups). Female problem drinkers reported significantly greater depressive symptoms and health-related stressful events compared to male problem drinkers and the light drinkers. In contrast, male problem drinkers did not show elevations on these dimensions and more closely resembled light drinkers, of whom no gender differences were found. The findings support theories suggesting a "telescoping" of complications, health-related stress, and mood dysfunction in women at a lower threshold level of alcohol consumption compared to their male counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-187
Number of pages17
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Alcohol dependence
  • Gender differences
  • Mood
  • Personality
  • Stressful events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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