Anxiety disorders can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age, gender and so on. However, it has been scientifically proven that anxiety disorders are twice as likely to affect women than men. But why is this? Below you will find some great information that can help you understand your own or a loved one’s disorder, better.
From the time a woman hits puberty until the age of 50, she is twice as likely than a man to develop an anxiety disorder. It has also been known for women to experience this in a much earlier stage of life than men. This is not only with anxiety alone, but with many related mental health issues. The most common being depression.
The first main difference is brain chemistry. The fight-or-flight response, which triggers anxiety in the body, is more easily turned on than in men. It has also been shown to be activated for longer periods of time than men. This is most likely due to the action of estrogen and progesterone.
The neurotransmitter serotonin also has a role in all of this. It has been shown that the female brain does not process serotonin as quickly as males. Therefore, it is easier for women to become depressed or “down” more easily and stay that way for longer periods of time.
Women are also more sensitive to low levels of the corticotrophin-releasing factor. This is the hormone that creates and organizes a stress response. This is one of the biggest differences between men and women brain function.
Outside variables also play a huge role. Postpartum types of anxiety disorders are unique to women after childbirth. There are many types of this anxiety disorder such as postpartum depression, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, and postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder. All of these anxieties usually stem from the baby now not being with them at all times and out in the world. Although men can suffer from some types of anxieties after their partner’s childbirth, this disorder specifically affects a large amount of women, usually around 13 percent,and can last up to a year or more.
Posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD) affect a large amount of women, particularly in reference to sexual assault. One out of every four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. One out of every three sexual assault victims develop PTSD after the assault. Likewise, women are at a much higher probability to experience a sexual assault than men, which contributes to anxiety numbers being higher in women.
Life factors such as being a single mom, the pay gap between men and women, and other factors that can put women at a disadvantage compared to men, can greatly increase the chances of developing an anxiety disorder.