WHY WOMEN REPORT HIGHER LEVELS OF STRESS 1
People’s daily life is marked with a series of activities inworkplaces, family settings, and social platforms. The processesinvolved in achieving the objectives intended for these functions arenot always easy, especially, when the capacity to fulfill them islimited. A majority of individuals confess going through differentlevels of strain to idealize their projected goals. Mental healthcomplications have been on the rise in the past one decade. Theintensified investment by the government, and other healthinstitutions, in the psychological wellbeing sector has assisted inidentifying the most susceptible groups in the society. Both men andwomen report high levels of stress. However, the factors surroundingwomen’s lives predispose them to heightened mental pressure(Goldman & Hatch, 2013). In addition, their coping capability isweaker than that of men. They are also likely to seek professionalhelp for mild and acute depression. This paper will approach theissue from an integrationist perspective, and demonstrate the reasonswhy the majority of women report more cases of suffering fromemotional strain than men.
Interactionism scholars indulge in studying the way differentindividuals live and carry out their functions in a given society(Rose, 2013). The theorists believe that the assorted behaviors thathumans portray are dictated by the interaction of various activitiesand institutions that surround them. According to Rose (2013), thepresence of gender stratification in the society exists because ofthe perceptions and meanings that people have towards each other. Thedefinitions of behavior and the social construction of an ideal manor woman is a result of social interaction. Furthermore, theself-image and identity are creations of the community (Rose, 2013).A study conducted in 1971 by Broverman revealed various attributesthat are common in both genders. The inquiry denotes women as gentle,emotional, tactful, dependent, passive, and unambitious. It alsodescribes men as aggressive, unemotional, logical, independent,active, and rough (Rose, 2013). The interaction of the differentinstitutions, in a particular setting, is the genesis of the listedcharacteristics. They determine the levels of stress between men andwomen.
The reasons for intense mental disturbance in women emanate fromvaried sources. Research indicates that parents treat their childrendifferently during childhood (Rose, 2013). The socially constructedcharacteristics of an ideal woman and man are molded at the tenderage. For example, parents orient boys and girls to varied games. Ladsengage in exploring and rough activities while girls tend to pursuereserved and less engaging activities (Rose, 2013). The behaviors arestrengthened as the children grow. They enter adulthood harboringmost of their childhood beliefs. Women become dependent on thestronger parties for protection, provision, and guidance.
In addition, the reduced discrepancies in the levels of educationbetween men and women have not significantly affected the roles theyplay in the society. As a result of the childhood buttressed values,men are hardy and they can withstand social pressure. Those who mayflop strive not to appear weak (Goldman & Hatch, 2013). Theydevelop the capacity to deal with challenges at home, in workplacesand in their social circles. Conversely, mature women still anchorthe social skills enforced in them during childhood. Most believethat they cannot fully settle issues without the input of anotherparty (Goldman & Hatch, 2013).
A study conducted by the American Psychology Association in 2011discovered that women are more likely to report both physical andemotional signs of stress than men are (APA, 2011). The investigationalso indicates that 41% of females complain of headaches comparedwith 30% of the males (APA, 2011). In addition, 44% of women arelikely to cry, as opposed to only 15% of men. The probe alsodiscovered that 32% and 21% of women and men experience indigestionrespectively (APA, 2011). The perception leads them to allowstressors to manifest in their daily lives as they seek help. Thetendency explains why more women than men turn up for counseling andtherapy.
According to Nolen-Hoeksema (2011), married women are more dependentof the male figure than those who are single. The problem exacerbateswhen the spouses become the source of stressors or if they offerlimited support. A report by APA infers that married women reporthigher levels of stress than those who are single (APA, 2011). Onaverage, 33% of females in a marital setting report significantlevels of stress. Nonetheless, only one in every five single femalessuffer from the stress problem (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2011). Also, in amarriage, women rely on their spouses for emotional support. Thosewho opt to lead remain single, and have no hope for intimateemotional support, look for ways to decrease the effect of stressors.APA provides that 63% of unmarried women report engaging in a myriadof activities to counter stress while 51% of women with spousesmanage the stress actively (APA, 2011).
In addition to the varied biological functions that are inherent inmen and women, social integration outlines other genderedobligations. Symbolic Interactionism provides that the functions ofpeople in a setting may fortify the perception of masculinity andfemininity. The ideology contributes immensely to the increasedsocial pressure (Rose, 2013). The society expects women to take careof the households and perform related chores, either directly orthrough delegation. According to Brown and Harris (2012), theirchanging position in the society has intensified the strain ofworking in the contemporary platform and fulfilling the family tasks.Unlike in the 20th century, when women were reserved andparticipated less in the public domain, the current environment ismarked with ambitious and educated females who fit perfectly in theroles that men have traditionally dominated. In 2015, 17.3 millionstudents graduated with college degrees in the United States. Ofthese, 51% were women (Brown & Harris, 2012). Besides theimproved levels of literacy, the economic crisis in the worldtriggers women to enter the job market to complement their malecounterparts. The increased number of single women has also increasedthe number of autonomous people.
In the wake of these changes, there emerges a need for women tostrike a balance between the workplace and home demands. Most of theoccupations have eradicated the role variation between men and women.Individuals in a given cadre perform similar functions and earn equalremuneration. According to Hanner et al. (2016), men have little todo after work. Although their trend of assisting women, in householdchores, is on the rise, the growth is insignificant. Therefore, itcannot ease the pressure women experience. The limited time availablefor mothers to carry out the expected functions satisfactorily pilespressure on their emotions. Since they perceive themselves as weakerthan men do, they develop the signs of stress (Hanner et al., 2016).
Another reason why more women are more vulnerable to stress is thatthey tend to be utterly involved in the personal relationship thanmen do. When such relationships are disrupted, they suffer severeconsequences (Hanner et al., 2016). For example, in the UnitedStates, more than 49% of the marriages end up in divorce.Nolen-Hoeksema (2011) agrees that the commitment that women havetowards their spouses and children affect them with a greatermagnitude than men, after the dissolution of a family. Another studycovering 30 European countries, with a total population of 514million people, found out that depression among the middle-aged womenhas doubled in the last four decades due to divorce and unstablerelationships (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2011). The probe also discovered thatwomen between the ages of 25 and 40 are three times more likely toexperience stress than their male counterparts do (Nolen-Hoeksema,2011).
Another study conducted in the United States by the AmericanPsychological Association provides that women are more likely toagree that a model relationship in a family set up is imperative(APA, 2011). About 84% of women believe that a supportive familyenvironment is critical for emotional health while only 74% of menshare the perception (APA, 2011). From the credible statistics, it iscorrect to infer that the pertinent issues that are maulingrelationships contribute to increased levels of stress in women.
According to the interactionist theory, the social construction ofbehavior influences an individual’s identity (Rose, 2013). Theactivities that people engage in also determine their lifeexpectancy. From childhood, the society encourages men to engage indifficult, rough, and demanding activities. During late adulthood,most of the men have already worked themselves out. They suffer fromvarious conditions emanating from exposure to the conditions in theiroccupations (Ruggie, 2014). Hence, they have a short life expectancythan women.
A study carried out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation andDevelopment in 2013 demonstrated that the life expectancy in theAmerica is 76 and 81 years for men and women respectively(Nolen-Hoeksema, 2011). Although the five-year difference may seeminsignificant, it lengthens the time for women suffering especiallythose who lose their spouses and close friends. Nolen-Hoeksema (2011)provides that stressors including poor financial strength, poorhealth, inadequate social support, loss of spouses and friendsdominate the sunset years. Women’s reduced exposure to harshworking conditions contributes to a longer life. They bear thegreatest burden of the late adulthood.
Women are more likely to seek medical assistance whenever theyexperience a disturbing condition. According to Ruggie (2014), theirgentle, caring, and dependent lives trigger them to share theirproblems with individuals that they trust. Symbolic interactionismprovides that the childhood orientations affect people’s laterlives. The behaviors become stronger when they are occasionallyreinforced by social circumstances (Rose, 2013). When more femaleclients visit psychologists, it is obvious that they will record ahigh prevalence of the condition in question. Professor Freeman, aprofessor of clinical psychology and a member of the Medical ResearchCouncil at Oxford University is of a similar opinion. He asserts thatstress should not be taken as a women’s domain bearing thedisparity in reporting. Most of the times, cases of mild emotionaltension go unnoticed in people’s daily lives.
According to Levine and Land (2014), men have the capacity tosuppress the placid anxiety. Majority of them believe that they donot require any professional help to put their lives in order. Also,a significant number of those who seek psychological help have severedepression. They mostly seek the services after referrals. A reportby the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research found out that in 1998,only 1.47 out of 100 men went for outpatient counseling sessions. In2007, the turn up had improved up to 2.12 per 100 men.
In conclusion, the circumstances surrounding people`s livescontribute to emotional changes. The inability to be in control ofoverwhelming situations leads to stress. On average, women`sfrequency and gravity of stress exceeds that of men. Theinteractionist theory denotes that socially constructed behaviorsaffect people’s perceptions of their identity and capacities. Girlsare oriented to gentle lives, and they mostly depend on the masculinefigures for protection and provision, as well as, emotional support.When they lack the prop, they live in anxiety caused by insecurityand uncertainty. Also, the changing trends of the behavior conceivedby the community continues to affect females emotionally. They haveto strike a balance between household chores and professional tasks.Women also live longer than men do. Assorted stressors, including,loss of partners, financial strain, and spineless social supportcharacterize the old age. They have to bear the burden for the numberof years that they outlive men. Finally, women are likely to seekcounseling services for both mild and severe stress. Therefore, whilepsychologists are quantifying the number of people who seek theirservices, they note that more women suffer from stress when comparedto the male patients.
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Levine, B., & Land, H. (2014). Genderdisparities among veterans: The high rate of post-traumatic stressdisorder among women in the military. MilitaryBehavioural Health, 2(1),59-63.
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Rose, A. M. (2013). Humanbehavior and social processes: An interactionist approach.New York, N.Y.: Routledge.
Ruggie, M. (2014). Thestate and working women: A comparative study of Britain and Sweden.Princeton: Princeton University Press.