If you think women experience anxiety more than men, you would be correct. The question is “Why”?
If you look at research findings on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website, there’s a hefty section on anxiety disorders. They list the most common risk factors, both genetic and environmental. Some factors are: being widowed or divorced, financially poor, or extremely shy. However, the most glaring risk factor contributing to anxiety is—“being female.”
Is Anyone Paying Attention?
A Ph.D candidate at the University of Cambridge, Olivia Remes, decided to further explore the link between women and anxiety disorders. According to the NIH, four out of every 100 people around the world have an anxiety disorder. This makes it one of the most common mental health conditions. We’re not talking about every once and a while getting worried about something important. That’s “typical.” What’s atypical is having excessive fear, anxiety, muscle tension, difficulty focusing, and being irritable—for consecutive months.
Remes and her team reviewed studies that had been conducted around the globe. Her findings were that women are almost twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than men. She also noted that in North America and Europe there are far more cases than in other parts of the world. Remes believes anxiety disorders require more attention, and added, “There has been a lot of focus on depression, which is an important mental health issue, but anxiety is equally important. It is debilitating. It can lead to suicide and is associated with high costs to society.”
Everyone experiences situations in life that are stressful. Men tend cope by focusing on the problem and solving it. Women, on the other hand, give deep thought to the situation, but also focus on the feelings of distress. It’s a coping strategy, but one that can exacerbate anxiety.
Hormone fluctuation is another factor why women may experience more anxiety. A woman’s hormones and brain chemistry alter across the entire span of her life. When pregnant, there is a surge in estrogen and progesterone. This occurrence can increase the risk for obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety.
Physical and mental abuse, especially early in life, can contribute to anxiety disorders. And because females tend to suffer more abuse than males, the potential for developing anxiety increases among females.
Help is Available
There are many types of treatments available. Once the symptoms are recognized, seeking help sooner than later is beneficial. Your medical doctor may prescribe medication temporarily. A good therapist can assist with cognitive behavior treatment. Meditation, yoga, and all forms of exercise help too. Just know you are not alone, and you can/will feel better.