Why are Women More Vulnerable to Stress?

23 January, 2019

Women readers might want to take a deep breath here before proceeding with reading this…. Since historical times, it’s always been the fairer sex who were offered the ‘smelling salts’ as they couldn’t withstand stress so well and tended to swoon. Women are also twice more likely to slip into depression and stress disorders than the more macho men.
A team of neuroscientists believe they have found the biological reason behind women being more ‘sensitive’ and needing more stress management care. They found that CRF (corticotrophin-releasing factor) plays a key role in human psychiatric disorders and that females are more sensitive to low levels of CRF and find it difficult to cope up even when the levels are too high as their neurons were more sensitive to this hormone. It was also found that males can coolly adapt themselves to become less responsive to this hormone, but females cant.

Till recently, no one was able to pin down the exact reason why women had higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorders, depression and bouts of anxiety – or even a greater propensity to attempt suicide. The disparity between men and women’s reaction to stress can also be documented by the following valid observations:

  • As compared to men, women undergo more hormonal fluctuations, which are also associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression. Some of the causes of depression include premenstrual dysphoric disorder, postpartum depression as well as menopause melancholia. And with women being more prone to suffer from hypothyroidism which is also associated with depression, you end up wondering whether hormones are really the ‘good guys’ after all!
  • Based on studies on the family history and genetical studies of fraternal twins, it was found that women had a greater predisposition towards depression than men.
  • Based on the emotional factor, women are known to become more involved in their personal relationships than their counterparts, the men. With more and more women joining the workforce as well as fulfilling the roles of mother, wife and homemaker, it becomes difficult juggling all the roles together and tends to wear the women down psychologically, leading to depression.
  • With women outliving men when it comes to age, old age can be hard on them with the loneliness, feelings of being neglected, poor physical health, etc, all predisposing them to become depressed.
  • Women are also more open to talking about their feeling depressed, so there is a greater likelihood of their getting diagnosed with psychiatric conditions than men.