Anxiety in Women

Why women are more likely to suffer from Anxiety than men?

Anxious WomanAnxiety is more common in women than in men. Many studies about the rate of occurrence of an illness in the community (Prevalence) show that anxiety is more prevalent in women. From puberty till menopause, anxiety in women is twice as high as anxiety in men. Hormones may play part in this: women are more likely to suffer from other psychiatric problems during their reproductive years. This applies to all anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorders, panic disorder, phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. This also applies to anxiety-related psychiatric disorders like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and personality disorders.

The causes behind the occurrence of anxiety in women more often are :

  • Hormonal changes from time to time.
  • More stress in a woman`s life.
  • Gender differences in managing stress.
  • Women are more likely to suffer from sexual abuse in childhood.
  • The social demands put on women in Western and Eastern societies.

Hormones fluctuate in a woman`s body during the menstrual cycle and throughout pregnancy and post-delivery. Estrogen and progesterone affect the metabolism of an important chemical neurotransmitter in the brain, serotonin, which is a major player in the production of anxiety and depression. Progesterone drops soon after delivery of a baby which may cause psychological problems in some women. A number of women suffer emotional problems following childbirth due to changes in progesterone level, some will get post-partum blues while others may get post-partum psychosis. Menopausal symptoms involve signs of anxiety and irritability.

Some studies found differences between the brains of women and men. This modifies women`s ability to respond to stressors. A certain area in the brain that produces large amounts of the hormone noradrenaline (Norepinephrine), which is known as locus coeruleus, is different in structure between women and men.

Women are more likely to have a history of sexual abuse in childhood than men. This traumatic experience may affect the woman for the rest of her life if she is unable to work through the trauma with support or therapy.

Society puts more demands on women than men. A woman is expected to be sexy, to compete with men for jobs, to succeed in her career and to be a good mother. Eastern societies require women to be a beautiful sexy good wife, a good mother and a good house-keeper and a good cook. If unmarried, divorced, or childless, society denunciates her and she loses much of her social status.

Anxiety disorders are also more disabling in women than in men. Many women suffer from multiple psychiatric disorders. Women with a lifetime diagnosis of anxiety disorder were more likely than men to be diagnosed with another anxiety disorder, bulimia nervosa, and major depressive disorder. Furthermore, anxiety disorders were associated with a greater illness burden in women than in men, particularly among European American women. These results suggest that anxiety disorders are not only more prevalent but also more disabling in women than in men.