Stress on Male and Female
Stressful life events affect everyone almost daily. The manner in which people tackle those stressful events depends significantly on whether and how they perceive and respond to the situations. Perhaps owing to this variability in experience, there is no single definition of stress. Early definitions underscored stress as a response to environmental stimuli.
However, for young people and students, in particular, stressful life events can weigh and impact heavily on their lives. Students face stressors such as time and financial management difficulties, sleep deprivation, social conflicts, and dating and relationship uncertainty that may jeopardise their academic performance.
Women have a life-expectancy advantage over men, but a marked disadvantage with regards to morbidity. This is known as the female–male health-survival paradox in disciplines such as medicine, medical sociology, and epidemiology. Individual differences in physical and mental health are further notably explained by the degree of stress individuals endure, with women being more affected by stressors than men. Here, we briefly examine the literature on women’s disadvantage in health and stress. Beyond biological considerations, we follow with socio-cognitive explanations of gender differences in health and stress. We show that gender roles and traits (masculinity in particular) explain part of the gender differences in stress, notably cognitive appraisal and coping.
An article about “Gender and Stress” by American Pyshcological Association (2017) Though they report similar average stress levels, women are more likely than men to report that their stress levels are on the rise. They are also much more likely than men to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress. When comparing women with each other, there also appears to be differences in the ways that married and single women experience stress. Women are more likely than men (28 percent vs. 20 percent) to report having a great deal of stress (8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale).Almost half of all women (49 percent) surveyed said their stress has increased over the past five years, compared to four in 10 (39 percent) men.Women are more likely to report that money (79 percent compared with 73 percent of men) and the economy (68 percent compared with 61 percent of men) are sources of stress while men are far more likely to cite that work is a source of stress (76 percent compared with 65 percent of women).
The Researcher conclude that Men and women* report different reactions to stress, both physically and mentally. They attempt to manage stress in very different ways and also perceive their ability to do so — and the things that stand in their way — in markedly different ways. Findings suggest that while women are more likely to report physical symptoms associated with stress, they are doing a better job connecting with others in their lives and, at times, these connections are important to their stress management strategies.
In the journal entitled “Gender and Stress: How Men and Women Experience Stress Differently” by Rebecca Mckeand (2016) tress is a natural part of the human experience. At times we try to ignore its presence and its impact, adopting an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality in the hopes that it will just go away; other times, however, it completely takes over us and can destroy our mental and physical wellbeing. Stress has always been a popular topic of discussion, because it is something that we all wrestle with, yet none of us can rid ourselves of it completely. Countless articles are written on where stress comes from, how it impacts us, and how we can manage it. Workplace stress, in particular, is a very hot topic. As our lives become busier and more interconnected, it is often difficult to switch off and have moments to decompress before the next task’s deadline, the next fire that needs to be put out, or the next demanding project lands on our desk. How, then, do we deal with this stress? And do men and women manage stress differently?
How Stressed Are We?
We are all pretty stressed out due to our jobs, our relationships, and the other demands we face. Since personality and individual experiences can define our ability to cope with stress, it can be quite personal – we cannot all look to the same resources to help us cope. However, stress is not always a negative thing. Without stress, our body would not have the ability to respond to and adapt to change.
What may not be as obvious, however, is that our coping mechanisms and our responses to stress are often impacted by our gender.
Gender Stereotypes: Depression and Anxiety Disorders
One of the negative results of stress is the development of depression and anxiety disorders. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), women are twice as likely than men to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders also tend to occur at an earlier age for women than for men. Much of the research conducted by the between societal pressures and gender stereotypes and mental illness, as well as the differences in brain chemistry present in the female brain versus the male brain.
Gender stereotypes begin to appear during puberty or adolescence when gender roles intensify and become more clearly defined. The inequalities between men and women increase well into adulthood, which leads to heightened societal pressures on women to adhere to certain roles and responsibilities. Women are also more likely to experience traumatic events, such as abuse or harassment, for no other reason than their gender. Further, according to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, women are more likely to make less money than men, be sexually harassed on the job, live in poverty, perform child rearing responsibilities while holding down a full-time job, and simultaneously manage the care of both their children and elderly parents. These pressures undeniably contribute to stress and depression in women, particularly for those who live in cultures with an extreme gender divide. This is not to say that men do not experience traumatic events that trigger high levels of stress and depression as well, but the sociocultural pressures on women tend to be more impactful on their psyches.
The Researchers agreed to the journal because our responses to stress are also inextricably linked to gender. That is to say that although men and women have very similar stress triggers, our responses are quite different. Rebecca Mckeand and his team have found that men tend to take a very egocentric approach when responding to stress; men adopt a “fight or flight” response where they prepare themselves for impending stress by conserving their energy and ignoring the perspectives or needs of others. Women, however, adopt a “tend and befriend” approach in which they try to better understand the other people’s perspectives or the reason for why the stress is present. When under stress, the emotion processing areas of the female brain light up, causing women to begin to reason around why they are feeling stressed. They are more readily able to recognize variances in facial expressions, while men under stress can only see neutral or angry faces, triggering a more negative and aggressive response to stress. Lamm and his team claim that these responses to stress are a result of our evolutionary past: Women wanting to protect their offspring and themselves laid low with other members of their kin, choosing strength in numbers rather than heading out into danger. They saw the benefits of creating a social support system or befriending the enemy, allowing them to talk through the stress, and, in turn, better understand and respond to it.
“Stress And Gender” an article by Couey (2017) If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, it’s evident Venus is one big ball of stress. According to a study led by the University of Cambridge and funded by the National Institute for Health Research, women experience stress, anxiety, and depression nearly twice as much as their male counterparts. In addition, women are more likely than men to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress. “Women tend to perceive stress differently than men and therefore process and manage it differently. This is partly due to their unique biology as well as their psychological makeup,” says Dr. Melisa Couey, a physician with Parkridge Medical Group – Behavioral Health Partners. While not the only factor, women’s hormones can affect stress levels. Dr. Couey shares, “Women experience much more hormonal fluctuation than men in general. Stress can alter the way these hormones shift, and chronic stress can interfere with the normal fluctuations that should be taking place, leading to further health consequences.” Familial duties up the ante as well. Researchers have found that women aged 35-44 who are juggling a plethora of family responsibilities, such as caring for children and perhaps elderly parents, suffer higher levels of stress than any other age group. However, women of any age can experience stress in their everyday lives. “Stressors often depend on the woman’s particular life stage,” says Dr. Couey. “I frequently hear difficulty balancing work and home life. In young college women, it tends to be managing school-related stressors and balancing academics with leisure and extracurricular activities. Essentially, it’s ‘How do I do all the things I enjoy while also working to support myself (and perhaps my family) and maintain healthy relationships.'”
The Researcher found out in this article that women are more likely than men to say that having a good relationship with their families and friends is important to them. Women are also more likely to feel upset, conflicted, or stressed out if their personal relationships are strained or suffering.