Stress & Gender: There's a Real Difference

by: Ashley Roman

Sometimes I wish I were a man. Not in a "I'm confused about who I am" sorta way. It just seems simpler. No monthly gift where your uterus tortures you for not being pregnant, no shaving your legs, no messing with your crazy bed-head for twenty minutes before work, no make up, blah blah blah. In my experience, men also have less anxiety overall and an easier time dealing with stress. Disclaimer: I realize this is a very over generalized statement, and some men do struggle with intense anxiety. Just not too many of the men I know.

With the exception of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), women have twice the risk for most anxiety disorders as men.

That's science. You can't argue with science. As a woman, I am at twice the risk for an anxiety disorder as any man. Lucky me! I won the anxiety disorder lottery. I sometimes ask my husband how he deals with stress. His usual response is, "I just don't think about it. Then it goes away,". Oh how I wonder what that would be like! It almost makes me angry with him. What do you mean you just don't think about it? Don't you worry about all the hundreds of things I worry about every day? How can you just fall fast asleep when you know there's three loads of laundry just waiting in the hamper and no groceries in the fridge?

I have learned from him. It's like we were made for each other. We balance each other well- I thank the Lord every day for that.

I am a woman, and I am learning to embrace everything that comes with that title. Emotions, hormones, anxiety, femininity. It's all beautiful.

When my husband and I were dating we read two books called "For Women Only" and "For Men Only" by Shaunti Feldhahn and her husband Jeff Feldhahn. THESE BOOKS ARE AMAZING. We cannot stress that enough. It provides insight into the opposite gender's head you didn't even know existed. There are sections on love, intimacy, communication, and even stress. The area that talked about stress and worry was one of my favorites. I'm always looking for clear and concise ways to express to my husband how my mind works, and when I can find a professional clearly explain my thinking process, that's so incredibly helpful.

Shaunti and Jeff describe women's minds by using the illustration of computer windows. Women have tons and tons of windows open. Each window represents a thought, worry, concern, etc. "Women's thought lives are like busy computers with multiple windows open and all running at once,".

When a women in the book was asked, how do you operate with all those thoughts going on in your head at once? Why don't you just concentrate on one thing and turn all the other windows off?

Her response, "Because I can't. And even if I did, they'd come back,".

Can you ladies relate to that? I sure can. In a man's mind, they don't understand why we can't just close the windows. It's as simple as that, duh. Sorry guys... us women weren't wired that way. Women are shown to be unable to close their windows and "just not think about it"the way men can.

In fact, in the "For Women Only Book", there isn't even a sectiondevoted to windows or worry thoughts. It doesn't exists because there are more important areas of a man's mind they focus on.

I always tell my husband I don't expect him to understand everything about me, especially when it relates to anxiety. It does feel good when I come across someone, a blog, a book, that does seem to 'get it'. What I need from him is compassion. That's what I urge you to give to yourself and give to others you don't understand-regardless of their struggles.

Spread the compassion!

Source: Anxiety disorders | University of Maryland Medical Center