Indian Women and Stress – A Genetic Perspective


A very apt and relevant perspective was shared by a scientific friend of mine on the blog that I posted yesterday – about Indian Women, Stress and Indian Cities! Due to the typical science research limitations, this research may not find scientific publication, but will shed some light on why Indian Women are found to be the most stressed in the world!
Of course, my friend also acknowledges the perspective that our physical space and its ‘ill design’ adds to the stress, but he contends that the reason for Stress is in our Genes! In a nutshell, this is what he writes and I rephrase (for easy understanding) and also quote some of his theories based on genetic testing of Indian women:
In us, there is something called as Serotonin (Say-Row-Tow-nin), a neurotransmitter, which basically carries messages from the source to the brain. Now, why are we suddenly talking about Serotonin, you will ask? The simple reason is that the Serotonin system is responsible to modulate mood, emotion, sleep and appetite and thus influences our behavior and physiology. Decreased serotonin is supposed to play a key role in the onset of depression and ability to cope with stress. Whew! Too many BIG words!
The point is that there is a major genetic anomaly within the serotonin transporter gene that circulates in the Indian sub continent women population. Due to factors like marrying within castes and sub castes, further ensures that “defective” genes keep rotating within the Indian sub continent population. Thus, in a simple sentence, Indian women are gradually reducing their ability to cope with stress with more and more of this ‘defective’ gene circulation amongst new borns.  
So my friend questions that “Is it just the social pressure and infrastructural inadequacy that is putting stress on Indian women?” He believes, they exist in some form or the other everywhere and what creates a ‘happy woman’ is the inherent ability to ward-off pressure. And this ‘inherent’ ability is possibly nothing but ability to make and keep more serotonin in our nerve routes.
Wow, so I guess the government and the non-helping husbands are off the hook, so to speak! Or may be not! They have even more responsibility to ensure that the physical & social conditions in which Indian women work and live needs to be much better planned, designed and modulated to suit an Indian woman’s serotonin levels than anyone else in the world.
With this, I will give a passing reference to another important response I got from a landscape architect friend on the possible role of landscapes and green spaces in reducing stress, particularly in women. I will get more information from her and update you on this in the next Post. Till then….

Comments

  1. http://knowledgetoday.wharton.upenn.edu/2011/07/why-are-indian-women-so-stressed-out/

    I have to disagree with your friend about the serotonin effect. By that token (and I speak from a purely non-expert view), we should have a lot more depressed women in India since most experts believe a lack of serotonin may cause depression.

    What I find interesting is the countries right behind India on this list - Mexico, Russia, Spain, France and Italy - tend to have the same attitudes towards women (i.e they are male dominated societies). So, I am more inclined to believe that there is more of a societal cause behind the high stress levels.

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  2. Interesting topic Anagha.. Congrats!

    Wish things were as simple"blame it on genes"....

    Being a biotech scientist, I know having genes is not enough but manifestation (expression)of gene product is important and it depends on variety of factors ...

    Having said this, being Indian and woman I have always noticed that the tolerance of Indian women is several times higher than in western societies. I have not interacted with women of other developing countries but I have read they are very tolerant too.. Again.. there could be a gene but what actually plays role is the value system Indian women grow up in...

    Very very interesting topic for me...

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