Stress and Gender
Virtually every system in the body can be affected by stress, including the growth system, reproductive system, immune system, cardiovascular system, and central nervous system (CNS). Stress hormones, notably glucocorticoids, influence neuronal survival and connectivity, and as a result, influence physiology and behaviour. Mental disorders contribute to four of the ten leading causes of disability beyond early childhood. One significant source of mental disorder is stress, which has been linked to schizophrenia, drug addiction, and depression. Stress-related disorders not only affect the health and quality of life for individuals, they also affect society at multiple levels.
Dr. Cheryl McCormick, a behavioural neuroscientist, investigates the impact of stress experiences in neonates and adolescents on the development of stress-related physiology and behaviour in animal models and people.
As the Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Neuroscience, Dr. McCormick is examining how gender influences the effects early life stressors, such as childhood neglect. Her investigation of behavioural, hormonal, and neural changes induced by such experiences is helping to determine how men and women may differ with respect to their vulnerability to the negative consequences of stress. Her work is a factor in providing a greater understanding of how the long-term consequences of life stressors and environmental concerns differentially influence the development of men and women.