Anxiety a Concern for More Women

By Semko, Laura 
April 16, 2017

September 2016

Anxiety a Concern for More Women

Feeling anxious or nervous can at times lead to symptoms like a racing heartbeat, clenched muscles, upset stomach, and trouble sleeping. If you feel this way all too often, you could have an anxiety disorder. A recent review found women are more likely to struggle with this health problem.

Woman frowning, with hands to forehead

Why the added worry

In the journal Brain and Behavior, scientists looked at past studies on anxiety disorders. They wanted to better understand who suffers from them. They focused on 48 reviews on the topic. The reviews included people of all ages from all over the world.

Their analysis revealed some key findings. Anxiety more often affects younger people. Those who have chronic diseases, such as heart disease, are also prone to it. What’s more, women tend to develop anxiety disorders more than men. In fact, they are 2 times more likely to have one.

Why may anxiety be a concern for more women? Some experts point to differences in brain chemistry between the sexes. Hormones may also matter. Research shows testosterone may help ease anxiety symptoms. Men naturally have more of this hormone in their body than women. One other possible reason: Women may simply be more apt to seek care.

What is an anxiety disorder?

Feeling anxious now and then is normal. You may feel so before flying or making a big decision. An anxiety disorder goes beyond that. Often worrying about or dreading a situation or activity may be a sign of such a problem.

There are several types of anxiety disorders. One of the most common is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with GAD worry a lot for long periods of time. As a result, they may feel restless, irritable, and tired. They may also have trouble concentrating, relaxing, or sleeping.

Too much anxiety may also lead to panic disorder. In this case, a person has unexpected panic attacks. These attacks spark strong feelings of fear. You may have a faster heartbeat, sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath. Worrying when the next panic attack may happen can worsen the health problem.

These and other anxiety problems can be treated. Medicine and talk therapy may help. So, too, may managing stress. Activities like meditation and yoga may help keep stress levels low.


Read more about anxiety disorders.




Anxiety or a heart problem?

Symptoms of anxiety may mask heart troubles in women, so says a recent study. Researchers asked more than 2,300 adults about their mental health. These adults also had a stress test to detect any heart problems.

Women with anxiety were more likely to say they had fatigue, heart palpitations, and chest pain. These same symptoms can be signs of heart disease. The researchers think that such symptoms may sometimes be dismissed as anxiety. As a result, women with heart problems may not always get timely treatment.

Online resources

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Office on Women's Health


April 16, 2017


A Systematic Review of Reviews on the Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders in Adult Populations. O. Remes, et al. Brain and Behavior. 2016. Published online ahead of print, DOI: 10.1002/brb3.497., Do Women with Anxiety or Depression Have Higher Rates of Myocardial Ischemia During Exercise Testing Than Men? N.J. Paine, et al. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. 2016;9(1):S53-61., Gender Differences in Anxiety Disorders: Prevalence, Course of Illness, Comorbidity, and Burden of Illness. C.P. McLean, et al. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2011;45(8):1027-35., Sex Differences in Anxiety and Depression: Role of Testosterone. J. McHenry, et al. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology. 2014;35(1):42-57.

Reviewed By:  

Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN