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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 51 (2009) 8, 569 - 577

Short report

Chronic stress, sex and gender

N.J. Nicolai

Many psychiatric disorders are a result of a disturbance in or exhaustion of the human stress response system. It is striking that many of these disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress and somatoform and dissociative disorders are more prevalent in women. There are various explanations for this differing prevalence: it can be attributed to molecular, genetic, neurophysiological, relational and neurohormonal differences. Among the topics discussed are differences in exposure to chronic and traumatic stressors, the role of vasopressin and oxytocin in recovery and neurophysiological differences, the differentiating effect of hormones and neuropeptides such as oxytocin and vasopressin, the tend and befriend response and factors such as abuse and attachment disruption in early childhood.

keywords chronic stress, gender, sex, tend and befriend response, traumatic stress