You couldn’t ignore the news if you tried. The economic crisis is all over magazines, newspapers and television news programs. So, it’s no wonder people are feeling anxious and stressed out.
But women may be reacting more strongly than men. A recent survey from the American Psychological Association (APA), called “Stress in America,” says women are expressing fear about the current financial situation more than men. Women are also reporting physical and psychological symptoms, including sleep disturbances, headaches, mood swings and changes in appetite in higher numbers than men.
“Women are sometimes more aware of the stress they are feeling,” says Stephanie Smith, Psy.D., public education coordinator for the APA and a licensed clinical psychologist in Erie, Colo. “They are often more willing to talk about it and admit to the struggles they are having.”
Women also tend to be the primary caretakers for most families, which in times of economic crisis can add to the burden. “Women have many roles to play in life. They are often the primary caregivers for children and the older generations [aging parents], as well as workers in industry,” Smith said. All of this responsibility can add up to a lot of stress, especially when families are being squeezed financially.
In addition, many of the traditional household responsibilities end up falling on the shoulders of women. “As much as things have changed over the years, women still tend to do more of the household work,” Smith said, referring to cooking, cleaning and laundry. “Taken together, these things often lead to more stress in women, because they just have more things to be stressed about.”
That’s not to say that men aren’t stressed out. Seventy-five percent of male respondents to the APA survey expressed fear about the economy, compared to 84 percent of women.
Since everyone reacts differently to stress, a key to maintaining good health during distressing times is to know your own warning signs, the physical symptoms that indicate when your brain and body are experiencing unusual or excessive pressure.