Edinburgh Castle last June: areas that voted to stay in the EU are, perhaps unsurprisingly, finding the ensuing Brexit process the most traumatic / Reuters

Women say they feel more stress about major life events than men, according to The Physiological Society's Stress in Modern Britain report

Brexit caused more stress to women, young people, better educated people, Scots and Londoners, according to The Physiological Society.

A poll of more than 2,000 people for the “Stress in Modern Britain” report also found women were generally more stressed out by adverse events – ranging from the death of a loved one to the loss of a smartphone – than men.

The most stressed out region was Scotland with people in the South-east of England the least affected.

The society warned that stress was a serious problem that could have both mental and physical effects on the body.

Dr Lucy Donaldson, chair of The Physiological Society's policy committee, said: “The modern world brings with it stresses we would not have imagined 50 years ago, such as social media and smartphones.

“It was striking that for every single event in this study, from money problems to Brexit, women reported greater stress levels than men. This could have a real impact on women’s health.

“While many people are aware of the effect of stress on mental wellbeing, it is also important to consider the impact on the body’s systems. 

“Your brain, nervous and hormonal systems react to stress and it affects your heart, immune system and gastrointestinal system. 

“When stress is prolonged, these effects on the whole body can result in illnesses such as ulcers or increased risk of heart attack.”

People were asked to rank the most stressful events by giving them a score out of 10.

The death of a friend or relative was rated as 9.4, followed by imprisonment at 9.2, a flood or fire in the home (8.9), a serious illness (8.5) and being sacked or getting divorced (both just below 8.5).

Starting a new job or planning a wedding were both rated about 6.5 on the scale, ahead of concern about terrorism (5.8), which was only marginally higher than the stress caused by the loss of a smartphone or moving house. Brexit was given a stress factor of 4.2.

The report said: “Perhaps most interestingly, for every single event, the reported stress experienced by men was lower than that by women. 

“The average difference was 0.56 points. The biggest difference was in the stress caused by the threat of terrorism, which was 1.25 points higher for women. 

“The smallest difference was for the arrival of a first child – a life-changing event for either sex.”

However it might be that men were more reluctant to admit they were stressed, while dying inside.

“Of course, we cannot tell from these figures if the women responding do experience greater stress, or are simply more willing to report it; an age-old problem of this type of research,” the report said.

Brexit produced the biggest range of responses.

“Respondents aged 18 to 24 scored Brexit stress a point higher on average than those 55-plus,” the report said.

“Those living in London and Scotland also scored Brexit a point higher on average than those in Wales and much of the rest of England. 

“Most markedly, those respondents educated to higher degree level reported stress two points higher than people with only GCSEs or A-Levels.

“These trends correlate with the constituencies of the electorate most likely to vote Remain in the referendum, suggesting they are finding the Brexit process stressful while Leavers are happier to let things play out.”

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