How Men Handle Stress: New Study Results May Surprise you
It is an age old truth that women are more stress resilient than men. Men may try and counter that but there are biological differences in how men handle stress. There can be an endless boy vs. girl debate on this context as well, but scientific studies have proven that women can handle stress better than men. There is also a biological reason why such is the case.
How Men Handle Stress vs. How Women Respond to Stress
Stress is psychological and hormonal in nature. It may be caused by physical strains or fatigue, emotional reasons, and excessive mental pressure under any circumstances. There have been numerous studies conducted across the world that looked at why women are more resilient to stress than men. The unanimous conclusion of all such studies has been that the female hormone estrogen is responsible for making women more stress resilient.
According to, senior author Zhen Yan, a professor at the Department of Physiology and Biophysics in the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the estrogen hormone estradiol is produced by the aromatase enzyme in females which actually counters stress and its effects. Her colleagues reiterate that if something similar can be induced or given to men, that doesn’t have the hormonal side effects of such enzymes or hormones, then men can be more resilient to stress.
Such a theory on how men handle stress has been long contemplated around the world and recently, experiments have been conducted to assess the realistic possibilities. According to a study that was recently published in the Molecular Journal Psychiatry, men and women were tested when stressed and the impact of estrogen was recorded.
Among stressed females, the estrogen produced after, initiated by brain signals, was manipulated and the signaling was blocked. After the signal was blocked and there was a reduction in the levels of estrogen in the female body, the adverse impacts of stress got worse. Similarly, when the blockage was removed and the brain signaled natural production of estrogen, the adverse impacts of stress didn’t affect the females.
There is clearly a correlation between estrogen and the impacts of stress and thus it is clear that how men handle stress can be more resilient if they have some means of taking estrogen. At this point in time, the quest is to find a way to induce estrogen in men which wouldn’t cause the hormonal side effect, estrogen being a female hormone, but would have the positive effects of countering stress.
Ensuring A Healthy Stress Response
There is a natural mechanism in our bodies through which our bodies react to and process stress. This is known as the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. It begins at the base of the brain in the hypothalamus and from there it goes on to the pituitary gland and down through the adrenal glands. Because so much of the NEM Stress Response is hormonal, it is important that both men and women have relatively balanced hormone levels before stress is introduced. This can be partly achieved by incorporating physical exercise into your lifestyle routine. Exercise helps to balance levels of hormones and is known to relieve and reduce stress.
Because women have the added benefit of estrogen to aid them in countering stress, men have to take extra steps to either control their environment better or at the very least control what is put into their bodies to properly nourish their endocrine system. When we experience heightened levels of stress, the majority of the burden for our stress response is managed by the adrenal glands. Being the workhorse of the fight and flight response, the adrenal glands can, over time, become exhausted and this is known as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
During the process of adrenal recovery it is prudent to note that each experience is individual. This is especially true when considering the difference between men and women, namely the levels of estrogen that is produced. As part of the NEM Stress Response, the pituitary gland, which produces estrogen, is also very active and can help to mitigate or exacerbate stress symptoms depending on its level of proper function. Taking steps to recognise the signs and signals of your particular experience is a necessity to travel down the road to a healthily regulated stress response.
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