How the Effects of Stress Vary between Girls and Boys According to a Stanford University StudyBy Audri Taylors, UniversityHerald Reporter
A Stanford University study suggests that stress has varying effects between girls and boys. This means that the approach that should be used for the treatment of these teens who went through traumatic events should also vary and should consider gender differences.
According to the research, the insula, or the part of the brain that is connected to emotions and empathy, is smaller with girls who experienced stressful events compared to the boys who also suffered trauma. This is basically the reason why girls have the higher tendency to develop the so-called posttraumatic stress disorder or PSTD, and are more vulnerable to depression.
PSTD refers to the psychological effects of a stressful or traumatic event to a person such as an accident, violent crime, abuse, natural tragedies and many others. People who develop PSTD can suffer from symptoms like sleeplessness, nightmares, anxiety, and problems eating.
According to the researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine, the reason why girls are more likely to suffer from PSTD is because of the fact that a part of the insula - the one that is in charge of processing feelings and pain - age faster than normal.
To support the study that the insula exposed to stress and trauma is the reason behind the development of PSTD, what the researchers did was to study two groups of boys and girls, where the first group suffered from stress and trauma, and the second group did not.
In the group of traumatized girls and boys, it was seen that there was an enlargement of insula and it changed in volume and size, while the group with no trauma was not seen with any change with their insula. This concludes that severe stress plays a role in causing a person to suffer from PSTD.
Dr. Megan Klabunde said how important it is to take into consideration of the varying reactions of each person to traumatic or stressful events.
"It is important that people who work with traumatised youth consider the sex differences."
"Our findings suggest it is possible that boys and girls could exhibit different trauma symptoms and that they might benefit from different approaches to treatment."