Stress: A different ballgame for both men and women
December 22nd, 2017
Filed under: Anxiety disorder by Rachael

Stress is a physical response to the feelings that overburden or overwhelm people. It can stem from demands related to finances, work, relationships and other situations that pose a real or perceived threat to a person’s well-being. The general reaction to stress is the ‘fight-or-flight’ response when the body prepares to respond either by fighting back or running away.

During this process, a complex mix of hormones and chemicals, such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine, is released to prepare the body for physical action. As a result, a number of reactions are witnessed in the form of a pounding heart, fast breathing and boosting of energy to enable one to focus his or her attention on the task at hand. Moreover, a person experiences the diversion of blood to muscles that stops the body functions like digestion.

Stress is ubiquitous in the modern world. It arises due to high-pressure jobs, acrimonious personal and professional relationships, spike in financial obligations, etc. In a recent annual stress survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), more Americans reported the symptoms of stress arising due to personal safety and terrorism related issues.

Between Aug 2016 and Jan 2017, the survey highlighted that the overall average stress level among Americans rose from 4.8 to 5.1 on a 10-point scale. Prior to this poll, most Americans reported money, work and the economy as very or somewhat significant sources of stress in their lives. However, the majority of respondents in the current survey pinpointed the current political climate as the major source of stress.

Besides these social and environmental reasons, the risk of developing depressive symptoms is higher among women. One of the primary reasons behind the higher prevalence of depression among women are societal pressure and difference in brain chemistry. With the intensification of gender-based roles, such as rearing children and elderly parents, balancing between both home and work, etc., the above risk compounds more. Compared to men, women are also likely to witness other socioeconomic problems, such as sexual harassment at work, poverty, etc. Such a gender divide in both private and public spaces spike depressive symptoms among women.

Women respond differently to stress due to distinction in neurotransmitters released

Considering the differences between males and females, both genders respond to stressful situation in very divergent ways. Although they may display similar stress triggers, their coping mechanisms and responses to stress are dissimilar from each other.

Some psychologists term the coping style of women as ‘tend and befriend,’ it is a more pronounced ‘fight-or-flight’ response in the case of men. Although physiologist Walter Cannon, a pioneer in stress research, postulated in the 1930s that the ‘fight-or-flight’ response to stress is universal and is shown by both humans and animals, the point to be noted is that his research was vastly conducted on males.

Many decades later, Shelley Taylor, a social psychologist from the University of California (UCLA), and her colleagues penned down an influential article in Psychological Review in 2000, which was later expanded into a book titled “The Tending Instinct.”

The book suggested that women generally respond differently to stress than men. Generally, women are more inclined to either befriend the enemy who is causing the stress or seek support from family and friends to negate the stressor.

While during stress men tend to release norepinephrine and cortisol into the bloodstream, women secrete more of endorphins responsible for relieving pain by instilling the feeling of optimism about social interactions and oxytocin responsible for influencing bonding behavior, social recognition and other social functions.

Decrease stress by breaking the divide

During the moments of stress, the brain function is minimized as blood flow is directed to only the most important muscles that leads to an inability to ‘think straight.’ This is detrimental to health and safety. It also leads to the development of depression and anxiety disorders. Therefore, it is essential to understand the warning signs of dangerous levels of stress and seek treatment immediately.

If you or your loved one is struggling with any anxiety disorder, contact the Anxiety Treatment Advisors of Colorado. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-891-2539 to connect with the best anxiety disorders treatment centers in Colorado. Alternatively, you can also chat online with our medical representatives for accessing information pertaining to anxiety disorders treatment in Colorado.

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