Women get more stressed than men, say researchers

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Women get more stressed than men over ‘every key life event’ - from losing their smartphone to Brexit, according to new research.

The greatest difference between the sexes showed women are far more fearful of terrorism than men while the narrowest gap was over the birth of the first child.

The Physiological Society spoke to 2,000 Britons to discover the difference in the way the men and women react to the tensions of modern life and the impact on health.

The report ‘Stress In Modern Britain’ published by the Society showed London was the area most stressed about Brexit, but the controversial issue also had the greatest variety of responses.

Respondents were given 18 different life events, and asked to grade them on a scale of 0-10, with 0 meaning ‘not at all stressful’, and 10 meaning ‘Very stressful’.

People living in London and Scotland were most likely to get wound up about ‘the process of leaving the European Union’ than those in Wales and most of the rest of England.

Those with degrees were almost more upset about leaving Europe than people with just GCSEs or A-Levels.

Not surprisingly, the most stressful event was the death of a spouse/relative with an average score of 9.43 out of 10, closely followed by fears of imprisonment, with an average score of 9.15.

The end of a long term relationship or losing a job, both scoring 8.47, appears to be less stressful than being flooded which scored 8.89.

But after terrorism the greatest differences between the sexes were over being seriously ill, moving house and money problems.

Becoming a parent was the issue the genders had the most similar rating towards, with particular prominence among those aged 25-34.

Scotland was found to be the the most stressed area in the UK, with the South East of England the least stressed.

The study also revealed stress levels increase with age, most notably over concerns over long-term problems such as illness or imprisonment.

However, an exception to this trend was over the loss of a smartphone, which was a more prominent cause of stress for younger respondents.

Overall, the most common responses concerned driving: car breakdowns, traffic, busy motorways, road rage, or being the passenger of a careless driver all featured.

One person replied writing ‘Being driven by my wife. This is a serious comment.’

Next on the list was work-related stresses, particularly job applications and

interviews.

Another set of common responses described caring for aged, ill, or disabled people. Illness and loss of pets also featured commonly, showing that those close to us need

not be human to cause emotional effects.

Some answers revealed concerns over more trivial matters such as ‘family arguments at Christmas’ or ‘the scrutiny of social media’.

The Physiological Society conducted the study to raise awareness of the effect of stress and its impact on health.

During stress, the body responds by releasing hormones into the blood stream, which affects the heart as well as digestive and immune systems.

Frequent and prolonged stress can cause long term physiological problems in the body.

Dr Lucy Donaldson, Chair of The Physiological Society’s Policy Committee, said: ‘The modern world brings with it stresses we would not have imagined 50 years ago, such as social media and smartphones.

‘It was striking that for every single event in this study, from money problems to Brexit, women reported greater stress levels than men.

‘This could have a real impact on women’s health.

‘While many people are aware of the effect of stress on mental well-being, it is also important to consider the impact on the body’s systems.

‘Your brain, nervous and hormonal systems react to stress and it affects your heart, immune system and gastrointestinal system.

‘When stress is prolonged, these effects on the whole body can result in illnesses such as ulcers or increased risk of heart attack.’