Q. I’ve heard that some stressors impact boys more than girls. Do you have an example of this?

A. I can give you some examples:

  • According to Dr. Louann Brizendine in her book, The Female Brain, maternal stress during pregnancy and a stressful first two years of life impacts emotional / stress hormone reactions and creates a stressed nervous system in females (more so than in males). She has stated that brain circuits incorporate a fearful, anxious imprint that alters the girl’s perception of reality and can impact her for a lifetime (and, presumably, be passed along to that girl’s biological offspring).
  • Boys seem to have more difficulty coping with parental fighting or divorce. The effects are more intense and last longer. They tend to return to stability and learning readiness more slowly. Some believe this means that boys are at higher risk of “downshifting” (as compared to females) and may impact males at least up to age 24....

NOTE: Girls will not come out of these types of fighting/divorce environments unscathed. However, girls seem to have more difficulty coping with death or separation (as compared to males). In fact, studies have shown that females are more susceptible to stress-related brain shrinkage from the release of the stress hormone known as cortisol. Between 5-7 years of exposure to chronic stress has been found to slow the growth of nerve fibers and shrink the hippocampus (the brain’s search engine).

 

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