Do Women React To Stress Differently Than Men Do
Yes, studies show that women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of stress. Women who are stressed are more likely than men who are stressed to experience depression and anxiety.21 Experts do not fully know the reason for the differences, but it may be related to how mens and womens bodies process stress hormones. Long-term stress especially is more likely to cause problems with moods and anxiety in women.22
Finding Your Path To A Less Stressed Life
Sadly, theres no magic stress solution that works for everyone. You might have to explore several different stress management tools and techniques before you find what works best for you. Dr. Howitt suggests taking it one small, manageable step at a time. “Set achievable goals, she explains. “Small changes can make a meaningful difference in how you experience stress both mentally and physically.”
Practicing self-care is always a good idea, but some people need more support. If something still doesnt feel right or you have questions about how to manage stress in positive ways talk to your doctor.
1 Kathrin Wunsch et al., Habitual and Acute Exercise Effects on Salivary Biomarkers in Response to Psychosocial Stress, Psychoneuroendocrinology, August 2019.
2 MaryCarol R. Hunter et al., Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers, Frontiers in Psychology, April 4, 2019.
3 Madhav Goyal et al., Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, JAMA Internal Medicine, March 2014.
4 Brian Chin et al., Psychological Mechanisms Driving Stress Resilience in Mindfulness Training: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Health Psychology, August 2019.
5 Getting Creative Really Does Boost Your Mood, Survey Suggests, BBC News, May 8, 2019.
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Excretory And Digestive Systems
Anxiety also affects your excretory and digestive systems. You may have stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Loss of appetite can also occur.
There may be a connection between anxiety disorders and the development of irritable bowel syndrome after a bowel infection. IBS can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
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Stress Can Make You Look Older
Chronic stress contributes significantly to premature aging.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that stress shortens telomeres structures on the end of chromosomes so that new cells cant grow as quickly.
This leads to the inevitable signs of aging: wrinkles, weak muscles, poor eyesight, and more.
What Causes Stress
People can feel stress from many different things. Examples of common causes of short-term stress include:
- Getting stuck in traffic or missing the bus
- An argument with your spouse or partner
- Money problems
- A deadline at work
Examples of common causes of long-term stress include:
- Poverty and financial worries. Depression is more common in women whose families live below the federal poverty line.2 Women in poverty who care for children or other family members as well as themselves may experience more severe stress.3,4
- Discrimination. All women are at risk for discrimination, such as gender discrimination at work. Some women experience discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.5,6 Stressful events, such as learning a new culture or experiencing discrimination, put women at higher risk for depression or anxiety.
- Traumatic events. Experiencing trauma, such as being in an accident or disaster or going through emotional, physical, or sexual assault or abuse as a child or an adult, may put you at higher risk of depression7 and other disorders.8 Women are more likely than men to experience certain types of violence, such as sexual violence,9 that are more likely to cause mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder .
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What You Can Do
Reducing your stress levels can not only make you feel better right now, but may also protect your health long-term.
In one study, researchers examined the association between positive affectfeelings like happiness, joy, contentment and enthusiasmand the development of coronary heart disease over a decade.6 They found that for every one-point increase in positive affect on a five-point scale, the rate of heart disease dropped by 22 percent.
While the study doesnt prove that increasing positive affect decreases cardiovascular risks, the researchers recommend boosting your positive affect by making a little time for enjoyable activities every day.
Other strategies for reducing stress include:
The American Psychological Associations Practice Directorate gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David S. Krantz, PhD, Beverly Thorn, PhD, and Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, in developing this fact sheet.
Stress Can Lead To Long
The potential dangers created by even mild stress should not be underestimated. They can lead to long-term disability serious enough to render you unable to work.
Researchers reached this conclusion after their five-year study of 17,000 Swedish working adults, ages 18 to 64, published in 2011 by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
One in four study subjects in the Stockholm area who had mild stress were awarded disability benefits for physical conditions like angina, high blood pressure, and stroke. Nearly two-thirds drew benefits for a mental illness.
Editors Note: This story was originally published on August 27, 2013 and was updated by Patrick Keeffe on August 4, 2016.
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Understanding The Nervous System
To understand the effect that stress has on the body, we first need to understand how the nervous system works.
There are two overarching components of the nervous system. They are the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.
The central nervous system is composed of the brain and the spinal cord. These structures are the control centers for the body.
The peripheral nervous system is composed of nerves. Nerves leave the central nervous system and connect it to the rest of the body. This allows the central nervous system to receive information from the rest of the body and respond to it.
Nine Ways Stress Is More Dangerous Than You Think
From early aging to heart problems, the effects of the day-in, day-out grind can damage your health in irreversible ways.
High-pressure workdays, long commutes, raising kids, not enough sleep or exercise, trying to make ends meet.
The accumulated stresses of everyday life can damage your health in irreversible ways from early aging to heart problems to long-term disability.
Some people believe stress makes them perform better. But thats rarely true. Research consistently shows the opposite that stress usually causes a person to make more mistakes.
Besides making you forget where you put your keys, stress also can have dramatic negative impacts on your health.
Here are nine examples:
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Q: What About Energy Levels
Chronic stress can make you tired. Your adrenal glands act like battery packs they provide energy-producing substances such as adrenaline on demand, a key part of the stress response. Unfortunately, many people overuse these limited battery reserves with endless work and personal demands. The result: fatigue.
How Stress Affects Your Health
Stress can be brief, situational and a positive force motivating performance, but if experienced over an extended period of time it can become chronic stress, which negatively impacts health and well-being.
How stress affects your health.
: Weve all felt it. Sometimes stress can be a positive force, motivating you to perform well at your piano recital or job interview. But oftenlike when youre stuck in trafficits a negative force. If you experience stress over a prolonged period of time, it could become chronicunless you take action.
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Stress Can Ruin Your Teeth And Gums
Some people respond to stressful situations through nervous tics or by grinding their teeth.
While people often grind their teeth unconsciously or when they sleep, it can do lasting damage to your jaw and wear your teeth thin.
A multi-university study in 2012 also linked stress to gum disease.
Researchers concluded that the pressures of marriage, parenthood, work, or lack of romantic involvement were factors in periodontal disease.
But those at greatest risk were people who became highly emotional when dealing with stress caused by their finances.
When Should I Talk To A Doctor About Stress
You should seek medical attention if you feel overwhelmed, if you are using drugs or alcohol to cope, or if you have thoughts about hurting yourself. Your primary care provider can help by offering advice, prescribing medicine or referring you to a therapist.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Its natural and normal to be stressed sometimes. But long-term stress can cause physical symptoms, emotional symptoms and unhealthy behaviors. Try relieving and managing stress using a few simple strategies. But if you feel overwhelmed, talk to your doctor.
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How Stress Can Affect Your Overall Health
Psychreg on Health Psychology
Stress is a normal part of life. The human body is designed to experience stress and react accordingly. However, it can have serious consequences if a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation. As a result, the individual may feel overworked and develop stress-related tension. This unrelenting strain on the body may contribute to additional health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or certain mental disorders.
According to BetterHelp, if you frequently feel frazzled and overwhelmed, there are strategies that can help you to bring your nervous system back into balance. Protect yourself by learning how to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress and take the necessary steps to manage it. Read on to learn how stress can affect your overall health.
When To Get Help For Stress
Stress is a normal part of dealing with what everyday life throws at you. But stress can complicate things when it becomes chronic. As outlined above, repeated stress can lead to many future health problems.
If you feel like youre losing control or have issues getting through the day and typical tasks, contact your primary care physician to discuss ways to reduce your stress. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health provider to provide further assistance. The INTEGRIS Health Mental Health Clinic can help you navigate your troubles with treatment options, free anonymous online screenings and other resources.
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The Effects Of Stress And Their Impact On Your Health
Stress and health are closely connected which can take a toll on your body.
Stress is a response to a perceived threat or danger. Threats trigger our stress response, including factors related to things like work, finances, and relationships. Stress can be temporary or it can hang on long-term, affecting hormones, mood, illness, and all aspects of your health and wellness.
Wellness Module : Stress And Well
If your answer is YES, you are not alone.
Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Some people, though, say that they feel very stressed most of the time. In fact, 21% of Canadians aged 12 and older rated their life stress as quite a bit or extremely stressful. While stress isnt always bad and can even be helpful, too much stress can affect your well-being negatively.
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Recognising Your Stress Triggers
If you’re not sure what’s causing your stress, keep a diary and make a note of stressful episodes for two-to-four weeks. Then review it to spot the triggers.
Things you might want to write down include:
- the date, time and place of a stressful episode
- what you were doing
- a stress rating
You can use the diary to:
- work out what triggers your stress
- work out how you operate under pressure
- develop better coping mechanisms
Doctors sometimes recommend keeping a stress diary to help them diagnose stress.
Is All Stress Bad For Your Health
Some forms of short-term stress can be a benefit. For example, maybe theres a project at work youve put off for weeks thats now coming due. The pressure you suddenly feel to deliver that project is actually stress. This type of stress is short-lived. It can give you increased stamina, focus, and an adrenaline high so you can deliver on time. Some people who work well under pressure, understand how to put this type of short-term stress to good use.
Consider, the temporary and sudden stress of a near miss car accidentyour heart is pounding and your hands are shaking. The adrenaline rush allowed you to think and act in a split second. That instinctual fight or flight response helped you narrowly escape an otherwise bad situation.
So not all stress is bad, but its important to understand the difference.
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How Stress Can Make You Feel
If you are stressed, you might feel:
- Irritable, angry, impatient or wound up
- Over-burdened or overwhelmed
- Like your thoughts are racing and you can’t switch off
- Unable to enjoy yourself
- Like you’ve lost your sense of humour
- A sense of dread
- Neglected or lonely
- Existing mental health problems getting worse
Some people who go through severe stress may experience suicidal feelings. This can be very distressing.
If you feel unable to keep yourself safe, it’s a mental health emergency.
What Are Some Strategies For Stress Relief
You cant avoid stress, but you can stop it from becoming overwhelming by practicing some daily strategies:
- Exercise when you feel symptoms of stress coming on. Even a short walk can boost your mood.
- At the end of each day, take a moment to think about what youve accomplished not what you didnt get done.
- Set goals for your day, week and month. Narrowing your view will help you feel more in control of the moment and long-term tasks.
- Consider talking to a therapist or your healthcare provider about your worries.
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Heart Health Apps To Download Now
But even short-term stress can have a profound impact on your heart if its bad enough. The condition cardiomyopathy, also known as broken-heart syndrome, is a weakening of the heart’s left ventricle that usually results from severe emotional or physical stress.
Although the condition is in general rare, 90 percent of cases are in women.
Cardiomyopathy can occur in very stressful situations, such as after a huge fight, the death of a child, or other major triggers, Dr. Haythe says. Patients come into the emergency room with severe chest pain and other symptoms of what we call acute heart failure syndrome, though their coronary arteries are clear. They can be very sick, but with treatment, most of the time, people recover.
How Stress Affects Your Body
Another infographic from Healthline shows the effects of stress on your body.
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.
Yet if your stress response doesnt stop firing, and these stress levels stay elevated far longer than is necessary for survival, it can take a toll on your health. Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall well-being. Symptoms of chronic stress include:
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Choose Positive Ways To Cope
Some things like alcohol, marijuana, overeating, or smoking may feel like temporary fixes. But over time, they can be harmful to your health and cause problems that make stress worse. Developing new, healthier coping strategies can help break this cycle and provide deeper, longer-lasting relief.
Try to be aware of how you handle stress so you can make healthier choices, Dr. Howitt explains. Consider keeping a journal of your habits, so you can understand your patterns. Make a list of positive actions you can take like calling a friend, going for a walk, or putting on music and dancing.
Ideally, over time, these healthier alternatives will become your new go-to activities for stress relief.
What Are Some Ways To Prevent Stress
Many daily strategies can help you keep stress at bay:
- Try relaxation activities, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. Programs are available online, in smartphone apps, and at many gyms and community centers.
- Take good care of your body each day. Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep help your body handle stress much better.
- Stay positive and practice gratitude, acknowledging the good parts of your day or life.
- Accept that you cant control everything. Find ways to let go of worry about situations you cannot change.
- Learn to say no to additional responsibilities when you are too busy or stressed.
- Stay connected with people who keep you calm, make you happy, provide emotional support and help you with practical things. A friend, family member or neighbor can become a good listener or share responsibilities so that stress doesnt become overwhelming.
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How Does Stress Impact The Body
Not all stress is bad. In fact, many of the responses to stress, such as quickened heartbeat, increased breath intake, and heightened brain function, are all responses to help a person survive a dangerous situation. Some stressors can even be positive and motivate a person to be successful at work or achieve a hard-to-reach goal.
In some cases, stress can vary by person. For example, someone who thrives in public-speaking situations may experience positive stress prior to getting in front of a crowd. A person who dislikes public speaking, on the other hand, may interpret this type of stress negatively.
The impacts of chronic stress, however, are much more severe, as those sometimes life-saving responses to stressors have an impact on other systems. For example, when faced with periods of chronic stress, the bodys immune system function is lowered, and the digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems no longer function the way they should.
These problems typically subside once our body suspects that the threat has passed, but if the source of stress is constant, several physical and mental health issues can manifest.