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Courtesy of ELLE – Continue Reading BelowPhoto: Courtesy of ELLEStressed out. Racing. Panicked. Nervy B. Sunday scaries. The dreads. Merr… We all have different ways of labeling our anxiety but here at ELLE.com we all suffer from it in varying degrees. So in advance of the holiday season, a time that can be particularly fraught with anxiety, we’re talking about it.First up, Jessica Grose takes a look at why anxiety seems to plague women more than men.My own capacity for anxiety occasionally astounds me. If I’m in a relatively calm period, with no obvious or overt worries, my brain will search around for things to turn over and over, to mind-fuck to death. I will lay awake at night worrying about how to deal with the New York City middle school process (my daughter is two), or whether we should try to move (someday; we just moved in June), or whether I should have kept in a paragraph I ended up cutting in something I’d written (who cares?). It’s a stereotype that women, and mothers in particular, are more anxious. But I wondered if it’s true, or, if it’s like the stereotype that women talk more—based on gender biased urban legend more than scientific fact.Related: Have You Met My Life Partney, Low Grade Anxiety?It is true, though there’s not really a single explanation for why, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, from their teens until the age of 50, women are twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder than men are. One reason women may be more susceptible to anxiety disorders is because of their neurological wiring. Dr. Rita Valentino, who studies stress responses and how stress leads to psychiatric disorders, did research with rats and found that female rat brains are more sensitive to a stress neuropeptide called Corticotropin Releasing Factor, or CRF. – Continue Reading BelowCRF effects the norepinephrine system in the brain, which is “activated during stress, and it increases arousal, vigilance, and changes attention in a way that if you were in a dangerous situation you’d want to be aroused, you’d want to be able to scan the environment to deal with the danger,” Dr. Valentino explains. Not only are female rat brains more sensitive to CRF, they also have more trouble adapting to an excess of the neuropeptide. In other words, female rat brains may be more likely to trigger anxiety and may have more trouble dealing with the stress once anxious. And it’s not just in rats. “There is a whole literature in epidemiology that indicates that stress related diseases are more prevalent among women,” Dr. Valentino says. “There is a greater incidence of PTSD and depression among women almost by a factor of two.”Courtesy of ELLE – Continue Reading Below – Continue Reading BelowPhoto: StocksyThere’s also some evidence that anxiety is linked to the hormone progesterone. In women who have pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (which is like PMS on steroids), the surge of progesterone changes the shape of some brain receptors that quell anxiety, making those receptors unable to do their job. For postpartum women, hormonal shifts may also be the source of anxiety. About 11 percent of women experience postpartum anxiety, and for some davidebagnaschino , it may be because their hormone levels are going from as much as 100 times their normal levels back to zero upon the birth of their child.Some women who experience prenatal anxiety are affected negatively by the high levels of progesterone in their bodies during pregnancy. (By your third trimester of pregnancy, you’re getting roughly the equivalent of 1,000 birth control pills a day worth of progesterone. That’s a lot to deal with).Finally, there’s some evidence that anxiety in women is nurture, not just nature. Taylor Clark, the author of Nerve, argues inSlatethat the way we raise girls has a huge effect on how they deal with stress. He calls it “the skinned knee effect”:”Parents coddle girls who cry after a painful scrape but tell boys to suck it up, and this formative link between emotional outbursts and kisses from mom predisposes girls to react to unpleasant situations with ‘negative’ feelings like anxiety later in life. On top of this, cultural biases about boys being more capable than girls also lead parents to push sons to show courage and confront their fears, while daughters are far more likely to be sheltered from life’s challenges. If little Olivia shows fear, she gets a hug; if little Oliver shows fear, he gets urged to overcome it.” – Continue Reading BelowThe flip side of this apparent negative replica designer bags , Clark argues, is that women are more comfortable getting professional help for their anxiety problems, while more men tend to self-medicate with drinking and drugs. Since they’ve been socialized to be ok with emotion, it’s not a thorn in their side to get help regulating that emotion.Related: The Anxiety ClosetAnother cultural reason women may be more prone to anxiety is that they’re taught that they should be taking care of other people. That means that they are not just worrying about themselves, they’re worrying about friends and family, too. Men, in general, are socialized to look out for themselves.Though Clark believes that female anxiety is more learned than innate, it’s worth noting here that there’s still a great deal more research that needs to be done on our biological sex differences when it comes to anxiety. As Dr. Valentino points out, “For decades in labs and clinical studies, only males were studied. All the research money had been going to studying male subjects, with the thought that we’re the same, and clearly we’re not.” The National Institutes of Health has been working in recent years to change that, pushing researchers to do parallel studies in male and female subjects. So there’s some hope for more specialized understanding and treatment of women’s anxiety going forward.I can’t tell if it’s more comforting to believe that my anxiety is hard-wired or absorbed by some kind of feminine osmosis. Like most things in life and psychiatry, it’s probably a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. All I know is that I need to find more relevant things to keep me up at night than potential disasters looming a decade away. Maybe I’ll just start reading obsessively about Ebola again. That sounds like fun.

Anxiety Is a Woman's Problem – Why More Women Suffer From Anxiety

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