A new study published within Nature Neuroscience has helped to understand why women were more prone to stress. Neurons involved in negative emotional states have estrogen receptors, the primary female sex hormone.
Science has already determined that women had a more natural anxious only men.
According to Inserm, 21% of adults are affected by anxiety, women being up to 2 times more affected than men.
Researchers have worked on the brain and hormonal mechanisms to understand why women were more prone to stress.
Through a new study, published in the journal Nature Neurosciencescientists have identified nerve cells and neurons involved in the arrival of negative emotions and stress. It turns out that the area in which the neural pathway activates when these situations arise is in the middle of the brain, between the habenula and the hypothalamus.
” We discovered this link between the hypothalamus and the habenula in a previous study, but we did not know what types of neurons the pathway was made up of, explains Konstantinos Meletis, one of the authors of this study. If we can understand how negative signals in the brain are created, we can also find mechanisms behind affective illnesses like depression, which will pave the way for new drug treatments. “.
After a similar event, a woman would have a longer stress response than a man.
” It has long been known that anxiety and depression are more common in women than in men, but there is no biological mechanism to explain this.underlines Marie Carlén, one of the authors of the study. We have now found a mechanism that can at least explain these sex differences in mice “.
According to the study, neurons involved in stress have receptors for estrogen. These are hormones secreted by the ovary, main sex hormones in women.
These neurons involved in negative emotional states and stress are more receptive to estrogen levels, which is why women are more sensitive to it. To reach their conclusions, the researchers confronted male and female mice with the same types of events. Result: the female mouse developed a much longer lasting stress response than the male.
Stress: what impact on health?
It’s a fact: anxiety and stress have an impact on our health. People affected by chronic stress or anxiety are more at risk of suffering from cardiovascular problems because of their constantly high heart rate, high blood pressure and overexposure to cortisol (stress hormone).
In fact, the body does not differentiate between an imminent mortal threat (such as an attack by a predator) and modern stress factors (work, breakup, family conflicts, etc.). Concretely, whether you are chased by a lion or you go to a job interview, the effects on your body will be the same : You have a lump in your stomach and your heart is beating irregularly.
It will therefore result from stress many side effects such as heart rhythm disorders, hypertension, digestive problems, headaches, sleep disorders or hair loss.