Sexes differ in the way they respond to stress.
Women and men differ in mechanism of coping with stress.

Recent study published in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior Gert J.Ter Horst, Team at the University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands, "We conclude that the female brain has a different innate strategy to handle stress than the male brain and that female animal models are necessary for studying the underlying mechanisms and options for treatment."

Women in the reproductive age are more vulnerable to develop affective disorders than men. This difference may attribute to anatomical differences, hormonal influences and environmental factors such as stress. However, the higher prevalence in women normalizes once menopause is established, suggesting that ovarian hormones may play an important role in the development of depression in women. Ovarian hormones such as estrogen can pass the brain-blood barrier and bind to cytoplasmatic estrogen receptor (ER)-alpha and ER-beta in different areas of the limbic system. During stress, estrogen can modulate the behavioral and neurobiological response depending on the concentrations of estrogen. In this review we present evidence for disparate effects of chronic stress on neuroplasticity and brain activity in male and female rats. Furthermore, we will demonstrate that effects of social support on coping with stress can be mimicked by social housing of rats and that this model can be used for identification of underlying neurobiological mechanisms, including behavior, phosphorylation of CREB and ERK1/2, and brain activity changes as measured with fos expression. Using cyclic administration of estrogen in ovariectomized female rats we could specifically address effects of different plasma estrogen levels and antidepressants on stress-induced neuroplasticity and activity changes. In this model we also studied effects of estrogen on recovery after chronic stress. We conclude that the female brain has a different innate strategy to handle stress than the male brain and that female animal models are necessary for studying the underlying mechanisms and options for treatment.

ScienceDirect - Physiology & Behavior : Sex differences in stress responses: Focus on ovarian hormones

Study Team

Gert J. Ter Horst, Romy Wichmanna, Marjolein Gerritsa, Christel Westenbroeka and Yanhua Lina

Dept. Neuroscience, Neuroimaging Center & Section Anatomy, University Medical Center Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 2, PO Box 196, 9700 AD Groningen, The Netherlands

Received 9 December 2008;
revised 3 February 2009;
accepted 20 February 2009.
Available online 9 March 2009.
Accessed online 20 March 2009

Sex differences in stress responses

Journal of Physiology and Behavior


Sex in Animals and Human beings

by Henry Stanton (Excerpt)
Sex and the part it plays in human life cannot be ignored. In the case of animals sex plays a simpler and less complex rôle. It is a purely natural and instinctive function whose underlying purpose is the perpetuation of the species. It is not complicated by the many incidental phenomena which result, in man's case, from psychologic, economic, moral and religious causes. Climate, social conditions, individual modes of life and work, alcohol, wealth and poverty, and other factors affect sexual activity in human beings. Sexual love, which is practically unknown to the animals, is a special development of the sex urge in the human soul. The deeper purpose of the sex function in human beings, likewise, is procreation, the reproduction of species.

Online Reader - Project Gutenberg

Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric
For you have but mistook me all this while.
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me I am a king?
—Shakespeare, Richard II 3.2.174-177


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