How Stress Damages Men's Health

Stress uniquely affects each person. Evidence shows that men and women have different biological and psychological stress responses. Compared to women, men seem to have a more robust stress response. Men tend to react with more unhealthy coping behaviors and higher levels of aggression. Such reactions can have a significant impact on their health.


Sometimes, a small amount of stress can be motivating. However, chronic stress can cause various physical and mental problems. Men and women process and react to stressful situations differently. So, men should recognize symptoms of stress so they can manage it effectively.


Stress in Men Versus Women


Stress tends to affect men and women differently for various reasons. These include differences in sex hormones, biological factors, fight-or-flight responses, and immunity. Research indicates that the sympathetic nervous and stress response systems are generally heightened in men versus women when exposed to the same stressors.


That makes men more likely to experience increased aggression, decreased immune functioning, and cardiovascular diseases. Also, stress activates different areas of the brain in women and men. So, men are more likely to have a fight-or-flight response than women, who often react with a tend-and-befriend pattern.


How Does Stress Affect Men's Health?


Chronic stress's psychological and physical toll on men can damage their health. It can affect many aspects of life for men, including behaviors, emotions, health, and cognitive abilities. Everyone deals with stress from time to time. The difference in coping mechanisms is what causes higher stress levels in men. You should consult your doctor if you start experiencing any of these stress-related symptoms:


Increased Risk of Heart Disease


Extensive research shows that stress is a significant risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease. Also, men with inherited stress are at a higher risk of early heart disease. Stress can cause high blood pressure and increase cardiovascular events and heart disease.


High Blood Pressure


There is a close relationship between stress and the body's fight-or-flight instincts. Stress triggers your sympathetic nervous system and increases blood pressure to prepare your muscles and joints for action. Eventually, chronically high blood pressure can overwork your heart, leading to blocked or damaged arteries.


Joint Pain


Aches and pains are common symptoms of chronic stress. Joint pain is a complex stress symptom. It may be as physical as it is mental. Still, the pain is real and can be challenging to overcome and control.


Joint pain is not a standalone symptom of stress. It tends to develop as your stress levels increase. When your body responds to stress by going into fight-or-flight mode, it releases pro-inflammatory molecules known as cytokines around your body. These molecules cause stress-inflammation. When you have chronic stress, your body continually produces cytokines. This leads to swelling and pain around your joints.


Other consequences of chronic stress in men include:


  • Accelerated development of prostate cancer

  • Lower sperm count

  • Erectile dysfunction




You can benefit from scientifically-proven stress busters. These include yoga, running, deep breathing, and meditation if you have chronic stress. You should also eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep to manage stress. If your stress levels are still high, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.


For more on the effects of stress, call Beyer Functional Wellness at (708) 719-9100 to reach our office in Mokena, Illinois.

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