Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Are Women Stress 'Lovers'?

Stress In Womenhttp://madamenoire.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/black-woman-stressed-out.jpg
Stress is a 20th century syndrome born out of the pace of our modern life, which constantly urges us to ‘go now’, ‘do now’, ‘see now’, ‘buy now’, but we end up ‘burnt out’ and ‘stressed out’.This has a direct impact on our health, leading to numerous doctors’ visits, accidents on the job and on our roads and a high job turnover.
Women are particularly vulnerable to stress-related illnesses because they are natural caregivers and automatically take on responsibilities that most men wouldn’t ever consider.
Women are also more often less likely to be in positions of power and are, therefore, not able to control what’s going on in their lives as most men can. This increases their stress levels, especially when they don’t see any way out.
Many women with careers have set a ‘male’ standard for achievement at work with the old-fashioned female standard for perfection at home. A man is able to go  home and relax after a hard days work but many women on the other hand, go home after an equally hard day’s work in the office and keep on working because of their traditional roles. One may delegate to a nanny but ultimately, the woman is still in charge and because of this, women are constantly working overtime and so end up stressed. 
Stress: How Women Are Affected
The effects of the anti-stress hormone oxytocin, produced during childbirth, breastfeeding, and in both sexes during orgasm, are enhanced by estrogen and reduced by testosterone, which helps women more than men, Rosch says. And nurturing activities boost oxytocin levels in women. The catch-22 is that women need more oxytocin than men to maintain their emotional health. For example, Rosch explains, women are more negatively affected when they’re not touched, and also feel more stress than men in relationships.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), stress is an expression of the body’s natural instinct to protect itself. While this may warn a woman of immediate danger, like a fast-approaching car, prolonged stress effects can negatively affect your physical and emotional health.
“Our stress response was exquisitely honed over millions of years as a protective mechanism,” said Rosch. “That was OK for our ancestors who ran into saber-toothed tigers. The tragedy is that today, it’s not that, but hundreds of things like getting stuck in traffic jams.
Stress Effects: The Physical Side
“Your stress may vary, but if you have stress with your work, your kids, your neighbors, and marriage all at once, that’s a big deal,” said Lori Heim, MD, president-elect of the AAFP and a hospitalist (a family physician who works only in a hospital) at Scotland Memorial Hospital in Laurinburg, N.C. “In women, I see this in changes in menstrual patterns — nothing else is going on except a huge increase in stress, and all of a sudden, they may be losing their hair or having menstrual irregularities, and everything points to stress as a factor.”
The AIS reports that some surveys show 75 to 90 percent of visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints. According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, the effects of stress on women’s physical and emotional health can range from headaches to irritable bowel syndrome. Specific stress effects include:
  • Eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia are 10 times more common in women than in men, says Rosch, and this may have something to do with stress levels. Like depression, this illness has been linked to low levels of serotonin and is often treated with serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs.
  • Stomach ailments. Stress can make you reach for junk or comfort foods, or upset your stomach to the point that you feel like you can’t eat. Common stress-related stomach troubles include cramps, bloating, heartburn, and even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Depending on how you respond, these can lead to weight loss or weight gain.
  • Skin reactions. Stress can lead to breakouts and even itchy rashes and hives in some people.
  • Emotional conditions. From being in a blue or irritable mood to more serious mental issues like depression, your emotional health suffers when there’s stress in your life. Women are better than men at hiding some emotions like anger and aggressiveness because the parts of their brains responsible for these emotions are larger than men's, but depression strikes women twice as often as men, says Rosch, adding, “The emotional effects of stress on women can range from postpartum depression after pregnancy to depression after menopause.”
  • Sleep problems. Trouble falling or staying asleep is common in women affected by stress, and this is particularly counterproductive since a good night’s sleep can help ease stress.
  • Concentration difficulty. Stress makes it hard to focus and be effective in your responsibilities at home or work, and that can compound your problems if your stress comes from your job to begin with.
  • Heart disease. The stress of competing in today’s job market has increased women’s heart disease risk, Rosch says. Stress can negatively affect the entire cardiovascular system, and lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
  • Lowered immune response. One of the more complicated physical reactions to stress is your body’s lessened ability to fight off disease, whether it’s a cold or a flare-up of a chronic condition.
  • Cancer. Some studies have suggested a link between stress and the development of breast and ovarian cancer. In one study, researchers found that the risk of breast cancer was increased by 62 percent in women who had experienced more than one highly stressful life event, like divorce or the death of a spouse.
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Productive Stress
In a positive sense, stress can make you alert, motivated, and productive. To this end, stress can be beneficial. It inspires you to meet the challenge of the task at hand. You push yourself and learn how to best handle the situation so it will be less stressful in the future. Some women "thrive" on stress, appreciating the motivation it provides.
Stress is common to women. Because women are capable of doing many things at once, they are more susceptible to the stresses of all the activities they take on. Women are social organizers, mediators, planners, mothers, wives, spouses, girlfriends, daughters, friends, athletes, teammates, managers, employees, cleaning ladies, cooks, partners, athletes, and therapists. Positive stress can lead to a full, very active life that keeps you young in spirit and in health. Athletic girls in organized sports have a full schedule as they go from school to athletic activity, and learn to balance school, fitness, friendships, and family. These girls grow into women who regularly exercise and who have the ability to manage their busy lives with multiple responsibilities, squeezing the most out of every day.
Some people need both physical and mental stress to be productive; some athletes need stress to stay at the top of their game. Their rewards are good health, personal satisfaction, and positive acknowledgment or compensation. Some athletes compete at high levels with the reward of enjoyment. Regardless, the stress must be worth it, otherwise the athlete will lose her edge, competitiveness, and desire.
http://madamenoire.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/stressed-black-woman.jpgNegative Stress
At high levels or for long periods of time, stress can be dangerous. Not only can it cause crying, anger, or inability to get work done, it can also cause physical illness or problems. Sometimes it can lead to negative coping behaviors, which lead to even more problems and a vicious cycle of never-ending stress. These negative coping behaviors include eating too little or too much, eating unhealthy foods, sleeping too much or too little, skipping work or practice, smoking, drinking, taking drugs, or taking too many prescribed medications. Even if you are not conscientiously engaging in negative coping behaviors, your body might be doing it for you. Signs of this are frequent colds, cold sores, canker sores, appetite and weight changes, heart disease, heart attacks, and even cancer. Too much stress can also lead to injuries or accidents, as it can cause you to be distracted from the task at hand.
Stress Effects: Stress-Lowering Techniques
Research presented at the most recent Western Psychological Association meeting found that 25 percent of happiness hinges on how well you handle stress. And what was the most important stress management strategy? Planning — or anticipating what's going to stress you out — and having the tools in place to tamp down the tension. Here are some more tips for managing stress:
  • Improve your diet. By eating well-balanced meals and skipping junk food, you can improve your physical well-being and, in turn, your emotional health.
  • Make time for exercise. “We do know that exercise is a phenomenal way of dealing with stress and depression,” said Dr. Heim. Research shows that getting active can lift your spirits and increase the release of endorphins, a natural chemical associated with mood.
  • Find fun ways to relax. Connect with family and friends and people you enjoy being around. Rediscover favorite hobbies; recent studies link a resurgence in knitting and needlepoint to their stress-reducing effects. Other popular stress-busters include yoga, meditation, and tai chi.
Finally, if you feel overwhelmed by stress and its effects, talk to your doctor about ways to deal with it. You may learn new techniques for managing stress on your own, or you may find that therapy with a mental health professional will better help you to get it all under control.
Allow yourself regular leisure time. Take a magazine into the bathroom, fill the tub, pour in some bath salts climb in, and relax. Daydream a little each day.
Improve on your sex life because you have a lot to gain, and only stress to lose!
Heart attacks aren’t just for guys. But the symptoms are likely to be much subtler in women than in men. Feeling tired? Short of breath? Anxious? These can all be signs of something serious.
You know the classic Hollywood image of a heart attack: A man clutches his chest and falls to the ground. But a heart attack typically looks far subtler in a woman, with a constellation of symptoms that develop over hours, days, or weeks — including fatigue, heartburn, indigestion, sudden dizziness, and troubled sleep . It’s tempting to write off these signs as “nothing, really,” but the more of them you have, the more likely it is that you’re suffering a heart attack. If you suspect you’re having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
7 Hidden Heart Attack Symptoms in Women
Plagued by Fatigue?
Fatigue is a common complaint, and one that may indicate you’re simply missing out on sleep, fighting a virus, overextending yourself, or experiencing a side effect to medication. But unusual or extreme fatigue may also be an early heart attack symptom or a warning sign of heart disease. In one study, more than 70% of the women surveyed experienced marked fatigue in the days or weeks prior to their heart attacks.
Troubled Sleep
It’s not unusual to feel tired due to lack of sleep or a demanding week or month, but take special notice of any unusual or prolonged disturbance in your sleep patterns . A recent study revealed that almost half of the women who had recently suffered a heart attack also experienced sleep disturbances in the days or weeks leading up to their attacks
Coughing and Shortness of Breath
Having trouble taking a deep breath but you don’t have asthma? Unexplained, severe shortness of breath during normal daily activities is one of the most common early heart attack symptoms in women, as is coughing.
Heartburn and Indigestion
That heartburn may be caused by more than a rich meal. Nearly 40% of women who have had a heart attack say they experienced heartburn or indigestion. Heart attack symptoms in women may also include unexplained nausea or vomiting. Women are twice as likely as men to experience gastrointestinal problems when having a heart attack.
Unexplained Anxiety
More than one-third of women experience unexplained anxiety as an early heart attack symptom. Yep, a heart attack can mimic a panic attack, which can delay lifesaving treatment. Feeling anxious for no reason at all? Call for help, pronto.
Widespread Pain
Although sudden chest pain is considered to be one of the classic heart attack symptoms, only about 30% of women report having chest pain. Women also report pain or discomfort in other areas of the body before or during a heart attack. Pressure, tightness, aching, or burning in your upper back, neck, shoulders, and arms, or even in your jaw or throat can be signs of a heart attack. Women have also described their chest pain as sharpness, fullness, or tingling.
Dizziness or Sweating
Nearly 40% of women suffering a heart attack say they feel dizzy or light-headed. Another 40% also break out in a cold sweat. It’s easy to write off both as symptoms of menopause. Sudden dizziness also could be a symptom of stroke, so check with your doctor to rule out menopause.
Know Your Heart Disease Risks
How do you know if your symptoms signal a heart attack? Get into the habit of noting your typical aches and pains and your normal reactions to foods and activities so you can recognize when something is truly amiss. If you have heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, a smoking habit, or a sedentary lifestyle, you should be especially careful about monitoring how you feel. Alert your doctor if you experience unusual fatigue, changes in your sleep habits, or other subtle heart attack symptoms.
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