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A landmark UCLA-study suggests that women respond to stress
with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain
friendships with other women. It's a stunning finding that has turned
five decades of stress research - mostly on men - upside down.
"Until this study was published, scientists generally believed
that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade
that sets the body to either stand firm and fight or flee as fast as possible,
It's an ancient survival mechanism left over from the old times
were we chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers.
"explains professor Laura Cousino Klein, PhD,
Now the researchers suspect that women have
a larger behavioral repertoire than just "fight or flight."
In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin
is released as part of the stress response in a woman, it buffers the fight
or flight response and encourages her to tend children
and gather with other women instead.
When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies
suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress
and produces a calming effect.
This calming response does not occur in men,
says Dr. Klein, because testosterone -- which men produce in high levels
when they're under stress -- seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin.
Østrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.
The discovery that women respond to stress
differently than men was made in a classic "aha!" moment
shared by two women scientists who were talking one day in a lab
at UCLA. "There was this joke that when the women who worked in the lab
were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded,"
says Dr. Klein. "When the men were stressed, they holed up
somewhere on their own.
"I commented one day to fellow researcher Shelley Taylor
that nearly 90% of the stress research is on males. I showed her the data
from my lab, and the two of us knew instantly that we were on to something."
The women cleared their schedules and started meeting
with one scientist after http://www.psykoweb.dk/selvtillidb from various research specialties.
Very quickly, Drs. Klein and Taylor discovered that by not including women
in stress research, scientists had made a huge mistake: The fact that women
respond to stress differently than men has significant implications
for our health.
It may take some time for new studies to reveal all the ways
that oxytocin encourages us to care for children and hang out
with other women, but the "tend and befriend" notion may explain
why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has found
that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering
blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.
"There's no doubt," says Dr. Klein, "that friends
are helping us live longer." In one study, for example,
researchers found that those people who had no friends
increased their risk of death over a 6-month period.
In http://www.psykoweb.dk/selvtillidb study, those who had the most friends
over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%.
Friends are also helping us live better.
The famed Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School
found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were
to develop physical impairments as they aged, and
the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life.
In fact, the results were so significant,
that the researchers concluded, that not having close friend
or confidante was as detrimental to your health as smoking
or carrying extra weight!
And that's not all:
When the researchers looked at how well
the women functioned after the death of their spouse,
they found that even in the face of this biggest stressor of all,
those women who had a close friend and confidante were more likely
to survive the experience without any new physical impairment
or permanent loss of vitality. Those without friends
were not always so fortunate.
Yet if friends counter the stress that seems to swallow up
so much of our life these days, if they keep us healthy and
even add years to our life, why is it so hard
to find time to be with them?
That is a question
that also troubles researcher Ruthellen Josselson, PhD,
coauthor of Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls'
and Women's Friendships (Three Rivers Press, 1998)..
"Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing
we do is let go of friendships with other women," explains Dr. Josselson..
"We push them right to the back burner.
That is really a mistake,
because women are such a source of strength to each other.
We nurture one http://www.psykoweb.dk/selvtillidb. And we need to have unpressured space
in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when
they're with other women. - It's a very healing experience."
The moral of the story is,
don't put your female friends on the back burner,
(efterbrænderen) - we need each other too much.
En undersøgelse viser,
at ca. 1 ud af hver 5. dansker
næsten dagligt har gule og røde stresssymptomer!
I et af NetDoktors nyhedsbreve , har jeg set flg:
"Vedvarende stress kan bl.a. føre til blodprop i hjertet, forhøjet
blodtryk, mavesår og astma. Men stress kan også forårsage psykiske lidelser
som depression", påpeger overlæge Jes Gerlach, formand for PsykiatriFonden.
Han kalder stress for »vor tids kulturelle udfordring«.
»Vi bliver qua vores opdragelse indkodet en slags perfektionisme
- en ambition om at være værdifulde i kraft af det, vi yder. Vi svinger
en indre pisk over nakken - og sætter det højest i livet at demonstrere
over for vores omgivelser, hvor værdifulde vi er.
Dét bliver vi stressede og syge af«, siger han.
Allerede i 1992 havde Danmark udgifter for ca. 900 millioner kroner
i forbindelse med stressrelaterede hjerte-kar-sygdomme. Hvad det
koster i sygedage at have søvnløshed, ondt her og der i kroppen,
depressioner, alkoholproblemer etc. etc. etc. er uvist,
men vi taler her om flere milliarder kroner her.
Og i en anden ny undersøgelse blev det afsløret, at stress er årsag til
at 1 ud af 5 danskere mere eller mindre jævnligt tager sig en pjækkedag.
Om vi egentlig ikke skulle glæde over, at disse 20% tør dette,
og undre os over, hvorfor de andre 80% ikke gør det
ind imellem - er et åbent politisk spørgsmål.
Stress og Børnefamilier:
Mange børnefamilier er plaget af stress, og det kan føre til dårligt helbred
og for stort medicinforbrug. En løsning på stressproblemet er en konkrtet
tidsplan, hvori der helt bevidst afsættes tid af til at holde fri
og være sammen med familien.
"Vinterferien, som vi lige har overstået, er et godt eksempel på,
at folk har mistet evnen til at holde fri. Vi fortsætter med at være hyperaktive
og overgå os selv og andre", siger speciallæge i børnepsykiatri Gideon Zlotnik.
Han forsker i stress hos småbørn og har skrevet en debatbog, "De stakkels forældre
- menneske dit navn er stress", om de stressede familier, som netop er udkommet.
A. Dohm, Jyllands-Posten, Set i Netdoktor den 23-2-2001.
Hvis du vil se flere
nyheder, fakta og undersøgelser af
hvad stress og nedslidning gør ved os
mennesker, så klik her.