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Women and Anxiety - What makes one gender more prone than the other?

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Any men or women suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental disorder should not lose hope as safe and effective women’s and men’s mental health treatments are easily accessible. When it comes to women’s mental health, the likelihood of experiencing anxiety is double as compared to men. There are some groups of women more vulnerable to anxiety disorder.

There are different types of anxiety disorder but the feeling of uneasiness is common in all types. Mild or severe worry or fear affecting daily life is pretty common in women suffering from anxiety disorder. Too much of anxiety in life can even take over your life. The sufferer is said to have a generalized anxiety disorder.

Physical conditions, stress, hormonal imbalance and genetic background are the factors known for triggering anxiety disorder. Young people, women and individuals suffering from chronic diseases are also likely to suffer from anxiety disorder. It has been found in researches conducted across countries that the number of women suffering from this mental disorder is double. Researchers are working on further researches to learn more about this mental disorder. They are investigating to find out interventions that can provide the greatest results. In addition to finding better treatments, the goal is to find the prevalence of this women’s mental health both in developing and underdeveloped nations. Numbers are hard to find due to lack of representation in some underdeveloped parts of the world.          

Here it is important to keep in mind that anxiety is not always a mental disorder. It is completely normal having the feeling of anxiety at certain times. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it starts affecting your life. See a doctor if anxiety starts causing distress.

But, Who Did The Study?

The researchers from the Westminster City Council and the University of Cambridge carried out this study. The UK National Institute of Health Research funded this research. The clinical journal Brain and Behaviour published this study.

The Times and the Mail Online claim that there are multiple causes of anxiety disorder in younger women. Being a working mother is one of these causes. However, this claim is not based on hard evidence. This claim is based on opinions.

However, the goal of the study by the Westminster City Council and the University of Cambridge was to collect pieces of evidence from systematic reviews. They studied the prevalence of this disorder. They studied the burden of this disorder across subgroups.

Researchers are holding anxiety disorder responsible for impairment to quality of life. This can also lead to significant disability. Researchers stress on better mental health services for women across the globe. There are many studies conducted in the past. However, this is the first one attempting to provide a comprehensive idea of the burden of anxiety across the globe. This study is based on systematic reviews presenting the highest level of evidence. The study has included reviews using different methods. Researchers have examined populations and also considered some other credible studies.  

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What Was Involved In The Study?

They searched the three most reliable literature databases to get systematic reviews reporting the global burden of anxiety. Reviews included individuals with psychiatric conditions, chronic or infectious disease, addiction and other mental or medical health conditions. They also included reviews from populations more vulnerable to anxiety disorder. However, they did not include reviews covering anxiety disorders such as social anxiety, generalized anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. They did not include reviews on anxiety treatment.

Two of the researchers did the quality assessment of the reviews. They figured out whether a review and extracted data are eligible or not. They included studies conducted on people of all ages. They examined studies on anxiety disorder from young children to seniors. These studies were of varying sizes. The anxiety assessment methods were also different in different studies. In some studies, there were structured interviews. In some studies, there were unstructured interviews. Some studies collected information from self-reported questionnaires.

What Were The Results?

In order to get a complete picture of how this disorder is globally distributed, they included results from 48 studies. Some of the major results are:

  • The prevalence of this disorder in healthy men and women ranges from 3% to 25%.

  • Female:male ratio of anxiety disorder is 1.9:1. This clearly shows that anxiety disorder is way more common in women. The ratio remains the same across different countries. The same goes for men and women having co-existing health conditions.    

  • 2.5% to 9.1% of the young adults with age less than 35 years are affected by anxiety disorder.

  • The prevalence of this mental disorder is the highest in the Middle East, North America and South America.    

  • The prevalence of anxiety disorder is the lowest in East Asia.  

The researchers described the prevalence based on the five common themes including:

  • Addiction

  • Chronic physical diseases

  • Mental and neurological disorders

  • Vulnerable subgroups of the population

  • Trauma

The researchers found that the prevalence of anxiety disorder was higher in people having chronic conditions. The prevalence ranged from 1.4% to 70%.  

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How Did They Interpret The Results?

The researchers concluded that despite epidemiological developments in this field, still many important areas were not explored. They recognized the need for further research in the area of the prevalence of this disorder. Recommendations provided by the researchers can serve the purpose of a guide for the research agenda. This can help in timely and tailored interventions.

Conclusion

This study funded by The UK National Institute of Health Research gathered evidence-based data from 48 studies. They had a significant amount of data to study the global prevalence of this mental disorder. This also highlighted the demand for better treatment across the globe.

Anxiety is one of the most common women’s mental health issues. There are treatment centers offering women’s mental health treatments. These treatments are entirely based on the needs of the patient. Therapists offer extremely personalized treatments including a wide range of therapies for improving physical and mental health of the individual with anxiety disorder. However, the individual should keep in mind that anxiety disorder does not occur due to life events and some mental conditions only, bad lifestyle also leads to the development of anxiety disorder. Your unhealthy habits can interfere with the treatment as well.

This article was originally featured on the Gooden Center Website.