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Why Do Men And Women Handle Stress Differently?

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Why do men and women handle stress differently? Men and women respond to stress differently because of their different gender roles. Stress affects both men and women when they secrete the hormone called oxytocin.

Men are more likely to react to stress by producing adrenaline and cortisol, which can create the “fight or flight” response while women produce adrenaline and cortisol in response to stress.

Women’s cooperative nature and men’s competitive nature also play a role in their differences in handling stress as women are more emotionally driven while men bottle up their emotions, constituting the dynamic approach.

Understanding Stress

Stress is a state or condition of mental and emotional pressure, formed because of an individual’s interaction with the environment. Stress is a feeling of tension or strain that originates from thoughts or events around you. These causes are known as stressors and they have a major influence on your mood, behavior, health, and well-being.

Stress activates your fight-or-flight response to react to situations that seem threatening, this occurs by triggering your stress hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol. Stress can be helpful since it sometimes gears you to achieve more. However, constant stress in excess levels can have debilitating effects on your physical, emotional, and medical health.

Stress varies amongst individuals and can greatly be impacted by gender differences. Although women and men experience stress to a certain level, it is more prevalent in females than males. Stress can occur in adolescence, teenage years, late teens, young adults, and older adults. Stress can make you feel angry, frustrated, depressed, overeat, lose weight or appetite, and also cause sleep disorders.

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What Are The Types Of Stress?

Acute stress your body’s quick response to new situations that may not be threatening. This type can happen to anyone.

Severe Acute Stress – occurs because of personal experience. It can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Episodic Acute Stress – characterized by occasional anxiety and worry about things that seem likely to occur.

Chronic Stress – is stress left untreated for a long period, leading to an excess stress level.

Symptoms Of Stress

There are many things that can be stressors, depending on the individual. Likewise, symptoms can also vary. Here are some signs mostly common in men and women:

Trouble concentrating

Stress can make it difficult to focus on things. The tension that comes with being stressed clouds your mind, making it hard to stay calm and concentrate.

Over-the-counter medications

Do you constantly buy and take Over-The-Counter drugs for issues such as headaches, sleep problems, back and / neck pain? While these may be a sign of other medical conditions, it is also likely to be a symptom of stress.


Boredom, excessive tiredness, lack of energy or interest in activities are other symptoms associated with depression. Chronic stress can lead to depression.


Inability to fall asleep or sleep disruption can occur with stress. You find it hard to fully stay asleep leaving you disgruntled


Stress can make you more prone to Irritability, fidgeting, difficulty sitting or staying still, mood swings, and bouts of anger.

Tensed Muscles

Neck pain, back pain, and tense muscles can arise because of being restless and not relaxing.

Eating disorders

Overeating or loss of appetite is more likely to occur in stressed situations than in others.


Stomach aches, indigestion, frequent bowel movements from hormonal imbalances can arise in chronic stress.

What Are The Causes of Stress In Men And Women?

Stress can occur because of different things. These stressors, although similar in men and women vary in their level of impact and risk factors. Some of these causes include:

Financial Problems

Financial stress can arise from various issues such as business, salary, budgeting, or family issues with frequent thoughts of how to balance your income to your budget. This is more likely to occur in men than women.

Relationship stressors

An abusive relationship, divorce, violence, an unhappy marriage. These and more can lead to relationship problems, resulting in stress and anxiety. Relationship issues are another source of stress, although men worry more about approaching the woman they like and meeting up with expectations.


School grades, tests, exams, performance levels, online or long-distance learning, handling work and school activities can put a lot of pressure on you and cause stress.

Career Growth

Professional development can also create tension. High standards placed on various job descriptions and meeting up to these standards can create tension. This is more prevalent in women than men.

Stress Risk Factors In Men And Women

Other factors that can increase the risk of getting stressed or aggravate stress levels include:

  • Death of friends, family, or loved one
  • Parental and individual separation and divorce
  • Psychological problems such as anger, guilt.
  • Trauma
  • Medical health conditions
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Injury
  • Environment
  • Low-self esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Unemployment or job loss
  • Marriage
  • Grief
  • Money

There are many other causes and risk factors of stress that vary for every individual. What appears as stressors to you might not be the same for the next person. Regardless of the cause, every stress and its stressor can have serious effects on your body if it is not intervened early.

Stress Reactions For Men And Women

Women and men differ in their exposure and reactions to stress and individual’s behavior, social environment, and genetic factors influence these responses. Women experience more chronic stressors than men and consider stressors as more threatening.

Social expectations affect how we react to stress and have a psychological impact. Men and women are usually exposed to different stress and respond based on societal norms. Cultural norms place a lot of restrictions and limitations on how to handle situations. While some responses are deemed inappropriate for men, some responses are seen as appropriate for women and vice versa.

For men, responses to stress are closely linked with anger, aggression, escaping, or hiding. While women are more likely to respond to stress with depression, eating disorders and body image issues.

Women are also more likely than men to react to stressors with frustration, anxiety, and anger issues. Although men may also respond with anger and anxiety, its rate is not as prevalent as the rate in women.

How Men And Women Handle Stress Differently

On average, men and women both experience physical and emotional symptoms of stress, however, these symptoms are more prevalent in women than men. These symptoms may include fatigue, feeling nervous or anxious, headaches, depression, feeling sad, emotional and prone to tears, indigestion, appetite change, irritability, anger.

Women are more likely to experience a great deal of stress and handle stress better by using stress reduction techniques. When women undergo stress, they reach out and seek support from friends and families, while men mostly repress their feelings or evade stressful situations.

Men cultivate the habit of keeping to themselves, finding it hard to open up even when they are experiencing stress at high levels. They mostly keep to themselves and appear cold rather than talk about it.

Women experience higher levels of stress than men and would rather talk about it, seek support, and surround themselves with friends and family. There is no particular reason this happens, although genetic build-up and social rules have really influenced these responses.

Why Men And Women Handle Stress Differently

Stress affects every individual, at one point or the other in their lives, and each stressor varies. Relationship issues are one of the leading stressors in women, while performance and productivity is the leading cause of stress in men.

For men, upbringing, mindset, societal norms influence their reactions to stress. These norms have created certain unsaid rules that make it difficult for a man to open up and talk about how they feel. Women, having a softer side, are more likely to react emotionally and also experience more stress along with anxiety.

Married women have higher levels of stress than single women, with a report showing that single women feel they are more likely to manage stress better than married women.


Stress has its positive and negative sides, with the negative effects being more visible in high levels of chronic stress. Stressors can be anything for anyone, just like how both men and women have different values and principles.

To manage stress, form healthy relationships, develop positive thinking, maintain communication with friends and family, set personal and professional goals, engage in relaxation techniques that suit you best, take a break, relax, stop trying so hard to meet up with expectations, work hard, and go with the flow, stop comparing yourself or your situations to others.

Speak to friends and family, reach out to people you trust, surround yourself with positivity. Seek your doctor’s approval before using medications, and speak to a doctor in cases of chronic stress.


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