I find it amusing when research studies “confirm” things that are no-brainers, and this latest Stress in America report from the American Psychological Association does just that with its proclamation that men and women handle stress differently. No kidding, right?

So, why do a blog post on this report finding? Because this knowledge can help explain why your partner makes the choices they do, and how these choices impact their mental health.

  1. Men are less likely than women to report that stress has a very strong/strong impact on a person’s health (78% vs. 88%). Also, men are more likely than women to report that their own stress has slight or no impact on their physical (36% vs. 26%) or mental health (40% vs. 32%). That might explain why men are less likely to make changes to their diet and/or exercise routines, even if such changes might positively affect their physical and mental health.
  2. Men are less likely than women to report that they think mental health professionals can help with making lifestyle and behavior changes (30% vs. 38%, reporting a great deal/a lot of help) and coping with chronic illness (19% vs. 38%, reporting a great deal/a lot of help). Again, this finding backs up the general observation that men are less likely to seek mental health services to deal with stress and illness. If you have been having problems convincing your man that he needs professional help, you are not alone.
  3. As a result of points 1 and 2, men are more likely than women to report having been diagnosed with the following chronic illnesses: high blood pressure (32% vs. 23%), type 2 diabetes (12% vs. 7%) and heart disease or heart attack (6% vs. 2%). That generally results in their partner becoming a caregiver in some capacity, which the report also stated is a health risk for the person doing the caregiving.
  4. Women are more likely than men to report using a multitude of strategies including reading (51% vs. 32%), spending time with family or friends (44% vs. 32%), praying (41% vs. 22%), going to religious services (24% vs. 17%), shopping (18% vs. 10%), getting a massage or visiting a spa (14% vs. 5%) and seeing a mental health professional (5% vs. 1%) to manage stress. I would argue that men have other strategies for relieving stress that are not listed here, such as exercise/playing sports, but in general, men use fewer strategies to manage their stress. According to clinical psychologist Norman Anderson, the APA’s chief executive officer, “Men don’t place as much value on stress management as women. They don’t feel it impacts their health as much as women…consequently, they’re not doing the things to help them manage it as well.”