Why Men and Women Cope Differently With Stress

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There are many areas in life where it can be noticed that men and women respond differently to a number of situations, recent research with brain imaging has shown that each gender responds differently to stress.
The main difference is that stress caused changes in men’;s rights prefrontal cortex and in their left orbito-frontal cortex. These areas are usually associated with what is known as the ‘;fight-or-flight’; reaction. Since it can be expected that men deal with problems that cause them stress by going into ‘;fight-mode’; that could in some instances involve aggression, or they respond with avoidance and withdrawal.

This is very different for women under stress. For them changes were not noticed in their limbic system, the part of the brain that is mainly involved in relationships, attachments, and emotions. This indicates that women may respond to stress with changes in mood (depression) and with what is known as the ‘;tend-and-befriend’; dynamic by becoming nurturing and seeking connections with others to maximize support.

These two very different coping styles seem to be rooted in the evolutionary past of humans, when the division of responsibilities had males hunting, fighting, and protecting whilst females tended to the well being and functioning of the group or community.

Nowadays the nature of stressors people face has changed and both styles of coping with stress create a distinct set of problems if people unconsciously act as if they are still living in the Stone Age. Most stressors today have to do with people’;s relationships or the lack of them, how they compensate for their insecurities, and how they follow their ambitions.

These modern stressors require strategies that are much more complex than ‘;fight-or-flight’; or ‘;tend-and-befriend’;. Following the Darwinian insights of evolution, it can be expected that those people will be successful who can adjust to modern stressors with strategies that use both male and female strengths of problem solving. Finding more sophisticated conflict resolutions skills and generally improve on communication skills will be necessary for successful relationships. My free course further down might give you some ideas.

This article was inspired by the research: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2007, November 20). Brain Imaging Shows How Men And Women Cope Differently Under Stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071119170133.htm