Today’s Solutions: April 21, 2024
The sixth sense

The majority of people know the common five senses; taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing. Although, not everyone is aware of a sixth sense named interoception. Interoception is the sense of our body’s internal state. For example, if we are thirsty and need something to drink, too hot and need to take off some layers, or our heart rate.

This sense is also vital to our mental wellbeing and is in charge of many day to day psychological processes. These include decision making, emotional wellbeing, and social ability, to name a few. Therefore, it’s no surprise a disruption in interoception leads to a vast amount of mental health conditions.

Many studies have tried to determine if there was a difference in this ability between men and women. The more we know about how introspection differs in individuals, the more accurate personalized treatment plans we can offer to them in regards to mental health. As expected the issue is complicated and these studies ended on a mixture of conclusions.

Combining the data

To investigate this issue further, The Conversation combined all available data together. The analysis found that women had lower levels of interoceptive ability when it comes to perceiving heart-focused and lung-focussed tasks.

These differences do not seem to be explained by factors such as blood pressure, physiological differences, body weight and how hard the participants tried. The results may give an explanation for why many common mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are more prevalent in women.

Further research is needed

It’s important to remember that this conclusion is not certain and some studies even came to the opposite assumption. This complex issue is in its early stages of understanding. In the future, hopefully, science can use this knowledge to better understand how to treat mental health issues using a more personalized approach with a higher success rate.

Even if the result is true, more research needs to be carried out into understanding why these signals may be processed less effectively in the average woman. Although, there are a number of different theories out there, including genetics, exposure to stress, hormones, childhood adversity, and other societal influences.

To work towards a fairer healthcare system for everyone, this research needs to be expanded outwards to non-cisgender members of the population. Also, making sure a mixture of ages, nationalities, and ethnicities are included in the tests.

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