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.
Gender Stereotypes: Depression and Anxiety Disorders