While some men may believe that fear and anxiety in women comes down to all that estrogen, it’s actually quite the opposite. It is low estrogen that is more likely to make an anxious woman according new research from Harvard.
During your menstrual cycle, your estrogen levels tend to ebb and flow (no pun intended), and your mood and mental state are then prone to these fluctuations. Extremely high estrogen levels seem to protect women from emotional disturbance, and low levels make them more vulnerable to trauma. This knowledge isn’t being limited to PMS and birth control though, they are also considering a much more widespread use. Researchers believe that they can create a pill that will influence estrogen levels, much like birth control does, but to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder. Their research shows that women who experienced traumatic events while their estrogen was low suffered emotional trauma for a much longer period. Before heading into perilous situations or even right after, an estrogen pill could protect their mental states. Even in men this tactic could be used. Men’s testosterone is converted to estrogen in the brain, so even though they are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders as a whole, they still use estrogen to remain stable.
Professor of Psychology Larry Carhill says that, “The single biggest bias in neuroscience research is the belief that sex differences are insignificant or small,” but the truth is there are many differences and learning them could be the key to treating clinical disorders in the future. As with any good treatment plan, it is best to treat the individual as a whole person, and not just as a statistic. That means understanding what makes their systems work, even when it comes to gender differences, so we can restore both men and women to good health.
- Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.