Stress: You can’t hear it, you can’t see it, you can’t taste it, yet it’s commonly accepted that stress significantly impacts men’s health. As more research is published on the effects of stress and anxiety, we’re learning that stress can be more serious than ever imagined, particularly for heart health. And in other ways, like how it affects your relationships with women, stress can be downright strange.
Here are six reasons why it’s worth keeping a lid on stress and anxiety:
- Stress can change your taste in women. Guys in a high-stress activity see heavier women as more attractive than did those involved in a normal activity, a British study of 81 men found. Kevin B. Jones, MD, author of What Doctors Cannot Tell You: Clarity, Confidence and Uncertainty in Medicine, finds these results highly plausible. “You need no physician to tell you that stress can change a man’s decisions,” he says. “We’ve all seen someone going through a difficult personal crisis who seems to flub even completely unrelated judgment calls. Some men self-medicate their stress or poor mental health with decisions that further muddle their judgment, such as involvement with illicit drugs, binge alcohol consumption, or dangerous sexual entanglements. But even without mind-altering substances or habits, they will make different decisions when too heavily stressed.”
- Men take stress harder than women. Men are supposed to be “rocks,” impervious to stress. But recent research flies in the face of this conventional wisdom, indicating that the women fare better in the face of stress. In one study of more than 24,000 Canadian adults, men who had high demand and low control in their jobs or had job insecurity were more likely to have had major depression. Women in the study, though still at risk for anxiety and depression, were not as likely to have experienced major depression. Simon A. Rego, PsyD, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, says that gender differences regarding the effects of stress manifest themselves in other ways that are negative for men’s health. “Men under stress are more likely than women to report having been diagnosed with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease or heart attack,” he says.
- High anxiety levels can be life-threatening. Major life events, including job loss, can be deadly, researchers at McGill University in Montreal found after analyzing data on more than 20 million people who had lost their jobs. Researchers found that men, particularly those in the early or middle portion of their careers, had a higher risk for death due to job loss than both women and men later in their careers. “We know that major stressors, like job loss, marital separation, natural disasters, personal illness, or death of a loved one, can have serious physical and mental consequences,” says Dave Montgomery, MD, PhD, a cardiologist and internal medicine specialist in Chicago. “Heart disease is known to increase in those with these major stressors. They can also lead to syndromes of anxiety or major depression, and some who suffer such traumatic events turn to behaviors that exacerbate the problem, such as substance abuse, physical inactivity, and poor dieting. Suicidal ideations — the thought or plan to commit suicide — can also arise from these events. Moreover, depression puts men at risk for heart attacks.”
- Stress makes men eat their feelings. Like women, high stress levels can negatively affect a man’s lifestyle and behavior choices, too. For example, a U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that people with high-stress jobs who delay regular meals end up eating more when they do eat, and the longer the gap between meals, the more extra calories consumed. “There are numerous behavioral issues such as skipping meals, getting less sleep, and eating unhealthy foods, that may be a direct or indirect result of stress,” Rego says. “These can often interact with and contribute to the medical impact of stress, which can include increased blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and increased vulnerability to infections.”
- Stress is bad for your heart. A recent review of studies on stress and heart health published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that high stress can raise the risk for coronary heart disease. Alan Christianson, NMD, a naturopathic physician in Scottsdale, Ariz., says that the effects of stress can actually manifest themselves physically in your body. “Stress creates the inflammation that causes small cholesterol particles to stick to the blood vessels,” he says.
- Stress can lead to belly fat — and type 2 diabetes. Beyond poor diet choices, another end result of stress is packing on more pounds along your midsection, thanks to the stress hormone cortisol. Plus, elevated stress can also cause a rise in insulin, the suppression of certain hormones, and belly fat, which is a major risk factor for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. “In addition, stress blocks the uptake of protein by muscle tissue, which leads to a loss of muscle mass,” Dr. Christianson explains.
If you’re living a high-wire act when it comes to stress, take the time to explore relaxation techniques to protect yourself, body and mind.
Articles from ：everydayhealth.com