Women And Stress: What To Watch For

Individual Counseling Insights From Westlake Village-Based Patricia McTague-Loft

If you’ve been in a long-term relationship at any point in your life, then you’ve probably noticed a simple fact: you and your partner sometimes react differently to intense situations. Reacting to anything from the death of a friend to a financial setback, men and women sometimes and perhaps often behave in different ways.

Reasons for the differing reactions are influenced by a variety of factors, including biological, hormonal and cultural considerations. One situation that has been well researched is how men and women react differently to stress. Writing for Healthline, Traci Pedersen says, “Stress symptoms in women can manifest as both physical and psychological problems, including anxiety, sleep disturbances, and changes in menstrual patterns.”

Pedersen cites a study* from the American Psychological Association (APA) that emphasizes one key difference involves perception and attitude about stress in general. According to the APA, some variances include:

“68% of women and only 52% of men consider managing stress very/extremely important.

“Approximately 70% of women and about 50% of men report trying to reduce stress over the past 5 years.

“Women use various stress management strategies, including reading (51%), spending time with family or friends (44%), praying (41%), attending religious services (24%), shopping (18%), getting a massage or visiting a spa (14%), and seeing a mental health professional (5%). Men are more inclined to use playing sports as a stress management technique (14%).”

What’s more, women are more likely to reach out for help. “Women have a strong belief in the effectiveness of psychologists in helping with lifestyle and behavior changes and coping with chronic illnesses,” reports the APA, “while men have a weaker belief in their effectiveness.”

If you’re a woman going through a stressful situation, it may be time for some self-reflection to recognize symptoms that may indicate your reaction is a problem. Look for emotional symptoms that include mood swings, sadness or depression and a decreased sex drive. Be aware that cognitive symptoms may include racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating and generally negative thinking. Physical cues can run the gamut — everything from headaches to fatigue to digestive problems.

If you’re in a stressful situation and recognize many of these symptoms, professional help is always just a phone call away. I’m here to help.

*The APA’s study narrowly defined only two genders in their study. Those identifying as transgender, among others, were not identified in the study.