When it comes to stress, one thing is for certain: we all experience it at some point in time.
Everyone of every gender, age, ethnicity, and background can experience stress. However, what is interesting is that men generally act differently from women in response to stress. Want to know why? We’ve got the answers.
The hormonal differences between men and women is perhaps the top reason men and women often react differently in stressful situations.
Testosterone is known for triggering a fight or flight response when men are dealing with stress. Hence, men are more likely than women to experience anger, aggression, or frustration when in a difficult situation. Interestingly, testosterone and cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, have an inverse relationship. As a result, testosterone tends to help decrease stress.
In women, imbalances of estrogen and/or progesterone can trigger or exasperate levels of stress, typically in the form of anxiety and depression. Not to mention, with women’s hormones fluctuating throughout the month, even just a slight, temporary change in hormones can have a big impact on how a woman deals with stress at a certain time of the month.
Like it or not, even in this day and age, there are general expectations set for men and women. While those expectations are fading away in modern times, they still very much exist.
Society often expects men to keep their negative feelings to themselves. Men are also heavily shamed for crying, experiencing anxiety, or dealing with depression. In response, most men feel the need to keep their emotions on the down-low.
On the other side, society is more accepting of women’s different emotions, and in turn, they’re more likely to express symptoms of stress rather than hide them. This makes generally women’s mental health easier to understand and spot than men’s.
Not only are women more likely to be open when it comes to expressing their negative emotions due to society expectations, but they’re also more likely to reach out for support. It’s not unheard of for women to reach out to friends, family members, or even strangers on the internet for help. Women are also more likely to get professional help too when in a mental health crisis.
Back to the hormone differences in men and women, women are automatically more likely to be more communicative regarding their emotions due to their higher estrogen levels.
As for most men, social support either isn’t a thing at all, or they have difficulty opening up to others. When stressed, men often put on a facade, refuse to talk about their problems, and deny needing professional help, even if they really need help, primarily due to the lack of social support they often have and due to society expectations.
Part of encouraging men to get help for their mental health is to make men’s mental health a less taboo topic.
It’s true that each one of us can experiences stress at some point in our lives. Not all of us respond to stress the same, however. What is more, there tend to be differences between how men and women respond to stressful stimuli. To resolve the issue, we can work towards making men’s mental health a less forbidden topic and become more accepting of their emotions.