Sex differences in psychiatric illness in earlier adult life are discussed. A random sample of elderly respondents were seen in their homes in order to examine neurotic reactions in the aged.
The relationship between neurotic symptoms, physical health, social data and sex were ascertained for the population as a whole.
Normal and late onset neurosis sub-groups were compared with regard to selected medical, psychiatric and social variables considered to have a bearing on neurotic reaction in the elderly. The variables discriminating best between ‘neurosis’ and normality were abnormal personality traits, physical ill-health and being female.
In the absence of any marked physical disability, being female was among the highest discriminators between the normal and neurotic groups. In the physically ill group, neither sex was more significantly represented than the other. Social factors were examined to explain the continuing preponderance of females in the late-onset neurotic group, but it was felt that they did not fully explain the differences observed.