Stress and your health electricity pick up lines


• Poverty and financial worries. Depression is more common in women whose families live below the federal poverty line. 2 Women in poverty who care for children or other family members as well as themselves may experience more severe stress. 3,4

• Discrimination. All women are at risk for discrimination, such as gender discrimination at work. Some women experience discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. 5,6 Stressful events, such as learning a new culture (for those new to the United States) or experiencing discrimination, put women at higher risk for depression or anxiety.

• Traumatic events. Experiencing trauma, such as being in an accident or disaster or going through emotional, physical, or sexual assault or abuse as a child or an adult, may put you at higher risk of depression 7 and other disorders. 8 Women are more likely than men to experience certain types of violence, such as sexual violence, 9 that are more likely to cause mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Ongoing, low-level stress can be hard to notice, but it can also lead to serious health problems. If you feel stressed, try these tips to help you manage your stress. If you need more help managing stress, talk to a doctor, nurse, or mental health professional.

• Depression and anxiety. Women are twice as likely as men to have depression. 11 Women are more likely than men to have an anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. 12 Research suggests that women may feel the symptoms of stress more or get more of the symptoms of stress than men. This can raise their risk of depression and anxiety. 1

• Heart problems. High stress levels can raise your blood pressure and heart rate. Over time, high blood pressure can cause serious health problems, such as stroke and heart attacks. Younger women with a history of heart problems especially may be at risk of the negative effects of stress on the heart. 13 Learn more about stress and heart disease.

• Upset stomach. Short-term stress can cause stomach issues such as diarrhea or vomiting. Long-term stress can lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that is twice as common in women as in men. 14 Stress can make IBS symptoms such as gas and bloating worse.

• Decreased sex drive. Women with long-term stress may take longer to get aroused and may have less sex drive than women with lower levels of stress. While not surprising, at least one study found that women with higher stress levels were more distracted during sex than other women. 19

• Meditate. Studies show that meditation, a set time of stillness to focus the mind on a positive or neutral thought, can help lower stress. 23 In addition to traditional medical treatments, meditation also may help improve anxiety, some menopause symptoms, and side effects from cancer treatments and may lower blood pressure. 24 Meditation is generally safe for everyone, and free meditation guides are widely available online.

• Eat right . Caffeine or high-sugar snack foods give you jolts of energy that wear off quickly. Instead, eat foods with B vitamins, such as bananas, fish, avocados, chicken, and dark green, leafy vegetables. Studies show that B vitamins can help relieve stress by regulating nerves and brain cells. 25 You can also take a vitamin B supplement if your doctor or nurse says it is OK.

• Get moving . Physical activity can relax your muscles and improve your mood. Physical activity also may help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. 26 Physical activity boosts the levels of “feel-good” chemicals in your body called endorphins. Endorphins can help improve your mood.

• Try not to deal with stress in unhealthy ways . This includes drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, smoking, or overeating. These coping mechanisms may help you feel better in the moment but can add to your stress levels in the long term. Try substituting healthier ways to cope, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or finding a new hobby.

• Get help from a professional if you need it . Your doctor or nurse may suggest counseling or prescribe medicines, such as antidepressants or sleep aids. You can also find a therapist in your area using the mental health services locator on the top left side (desktop view) or bottom (mobile view) of this page. If important relationships with family or friends are a source of stress, a counselor can help you learn new emotional and relationship skills.

• Gilbert, L.K., Breiding, M.J., Merrick, M.T., Thompson, W.W., Ford, D.C., Dhingra, S.S., et al. (2015). Childhood adversity and adult chronic disease: an update from ten states and the District of Columbia, 2010. American Journal of Preventive Medicine; 48(3): 345–9.

• Smith, S.G., Chen, J., Basile, K.C., Gilbert, L.K., Merrick, M.T., Patel, N., et al. (2017). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010–2012 State Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2013). Table 4: Specific mental illness and substance use disorders among adults, by sex: percentage, United States, 2001/2002. Behavioral Health, United States, 2012 . HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4797. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

• Vaccarino, V., Shah, A.J., Rooks, C., Ibeanu, I., Nye, J.A., Pimple, P., et al. (2014). Sex differences in mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia in young survivors of an acute myocardial infarction. Psychosomatic Medicine; 76(3): 171–180.

• Bertone-Johnson, E.R., Whitcomb, B.W., Missmer, S.A., Manson, J.E., Hankinson, S.E., Rich-Edwards, J.W. (2014). Early Life Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Abuse and the Development of Premenstrual Syndrome: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Women’s Health (Larchmont); 23(9): 729–739.

• Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E.M.S., Gould, N.F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R., et al. (2014). Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine; 174(3), 357–368.