Market Anxiety: Women Are Anxious And Men Are Dying.

Dr. Diana L Walcutt Health Guide
  • Women may be more stressed but more men die when there's a financial disaster. There are a number of reasons for this and some may not be obvious.


    It's well known that men are more aggressive and that is primarily due to testosterone levels. While women have testosterone in their systems, men obviously have far more. Testosterone is known for the alpha dog syndrome, in which men have to dominate each other. You can see this in sibling rivalry, gangs, and Wall Street. This aggressiveness takes us into war as well. Men want to show each other who's boss.


    While this attribute is desirable in some arenas, for instance, you want your investment analyst to be aggressive, and your surgeon to be courageous, in Wall Street the aggressiveness can also lead to panic and thus lead to dumber mistakes.

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    Panic in anyone can cause impulsiveness, and that is problematic when clear thinking is needed. If you watch the markets, when one like the Dow dips, so can Nikkei, and other world markets. In other words, if we have sneeze, the rest of the world ducks. That then triggers more impulsive selling and the market dips even more. If you haven't had your head in the sand for the past couple of weeks, you have seen this happening. Both men and women can be impulsive, but the aggressive mistakes are usually attributed to men and their competitive nature.


    What I have noticed over the years is that men tend to form their identity around their job, their success and their toys. Women tend to form their identity around family and friends. When a man loses his money or his job, his identity is threatened. For instance, my male patients who are disabled and cannot work become more depressed and more suicidal then women over this issue, since they are first and foremost workers and providers. Loss of identity can mean loss of a will to live.


    In addition, downturns in the market often lead to more substance abuse, that is, alcohol and drugs. It's well-known that this form of self medicating works in the short run. We can "forget" our problems. However, substance abuse also triggers impulsivity and poor judgment. The man who is contemplating the bleak future may not see any hope. If he doesn't, and has a loss of control over his judgment because of alcohol, then he is more likely to consider ending it all.


    Men typically use more violent means of suicide then women. They tend to use guns, car wrecks, hanging and jumping as methods. Women tend to use pills and cut their wrists. These latter methods are slow and both have the potential of being interrupted.


    Finally, if the stress of the market is severe enough and the male is in fair-to-poor health, he is more susceptible to heart attack and stroke. He's going to smoke more cigarettes and consume more caffeine. His eating habits are going to deteriorate and he's not going to be sleeping. He's going to ignore his high blood pressure medications because he's too busy. Unfortunately, the high-powered, Type A male isn't prone to have regular checkups, nor is he likely to pay attention to warning signs. For him, the first warning may be too late.


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    All that being said, there is hope for the market and for the adult male. Study your history. When a bubble such as the housing boom, (or the boom, remember that?) bursts (and they always will), the market recovers. It may take time, but it always does. Money is like the ocean, with its tides that ebb and flow. The tide is out right now, but it always comes back in.


    Second, pay attention to warning signs in your man. Is he appearing more moody, angry or despondent? If you can, get him to a doctor. He may benefit from a physical or medications. Is he drinking more? Get him some help.


    The situation may be serious, but it is not hopeless.


Published On: October 21, 2008