Breaking news: Women worry!

New studies show that women and men freak out in different ways.

Published January 30, 2006 4:50PM (EST)

In today's "No shit, Sherlock" category is an article from the Chicago Tribune that says women worry more -- and in different ways -- than men.

According to new research, the reason I woke up last night every hour on the hour stressed about work and an upcoming trip while my husband slept soundly has to do with the fact that women's brains show more communication between the hemispheres, while in men's brains the left hemisphere, considered the analytical part of the brain, is more active.

"With both hemispheres activated in women, there are many more different types of emotional reactions," Vesna Pirec, a psychiatrist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told the Tribune. "And women, in times of stress, also tend to remember many more details than men would." (This could explain the three separate lists -- one for home, one for work, one for my trip -- that I made last night while I wasn't sleeping.)

As with most scientific studies about the differences between the sexes, this one is linked to evolution and gender roles through the centuries. "Women juggled child care, cooking and protecting the family," Pirec says. "Men in those times had mostly one task: to go hunting and provide food. So their brains developed differently."

Women seem to experience negative emotions such as anxiety more intensely and easily too, which is why they are twice as likely to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. But it's not as if men are worry-free. They just keep their fears bottled up inside, which often results in physical problems.

By Lori Leibovich

Lori Leibovich is a contributing editor at Salon and the former editor of the Life section.

MORE FROM Lori Leibovich

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