Women are nearly twice as likely to experience anxiety as men, according to new research. And both women and men under the age of 35 have a significantly higher risk than other age groups.
In an attempt to integrate past studies, the National Institute for Health Research funded researchers at the University of Cambridge to do a global review of past studies. Their findings show gender and age do indeed make a difference.
Anxiety is something almost every adult has experienced, but what does it actually mean to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder?
When it comes to characterizing generalized anxiety disorder, the Mayo Clinic defines it as “excessive, ongoing anxiety and worry that interfere with day-to-day activities.” These anxious feelings occur across age groups, races, religions and sexes, but this review reveals an interesting discrepancy in who’s most likely to suffer.
So why does this large gap exist between men and women in terms of their level of risk? One possible explanation for the discrepancy is the “balancing act” many women go through as adults.
“From an evolutionary perspective, women have a more protective role. So they’re probably more prone to worry about things and make sure that everything is safe in the home,” says Dr. Chandragupta Vedak, a psychiatrist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “Additionally, today’s women are getting a lot more pressure to juggle different roles, such as working, being a mother and being a housewife. Conflicting demands of these roles and lack of time and resources to fulfill them become a perfect recipe for anxiety in a modern woman.”
The University of Cambridge research team agrees that women have more to worry about on a daily basis, and this puts pressure on their stress limits. These concerns include childcare and work issues and often cause women to worry about their future and their ability to care for themselves and their family.
Despite many people’s view that they cannot control anxiety or believe there is little or nothing they can do about it, researchers warn that anxiety is not something to ignore. It can lead to long-term negative health effects and should not be overlooked. Many adults experience an improvement in their symptoms when treated with psychotherapy, antidepressant drugs or a combination of both, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If someone is experiencing significant problems functioning at work, in relationships or maintaining their health (including sleep), they should seek help.