Women, it seems, have a "tend and befriend" response to stress. Oxytocin, the hormone released when women breastfeed, is also released during times of stress, and overrides the "fight or flight" response to encourage women to care for their children and bond with other women. Testosterone, which is increased during times of stress in men, heightens the "fight or flight" response.
Two women scientists from the UCLA lab realized that this was true, even among their own co-workers.
When the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own.This need for bonding in response to stress translates into a life-or-death need for women friends. The study showed that the more friends a woman had, the healthier she was over the long term--even after such stressful events as the death of a spouse.
Hat tip to MK.