Glamour – Women Are Twice as Likely as Men to Develop Anxiety: Here’s Why

Making headlines around the web this past week have been recent findings confirming that women are indeed more likely to be anxious than men… Not great news, I know.

Studies have shown anxiety to be on the rise for the last decade, and many have found different trends, but no one study has compiled all the data to make sense of exactly what we know all in. Until now.

A recently published scientific review by Cambridge University reviewed all the anxiety data published to date and noted some interesting trends, even if not what we really want to hear.  For starters, data show that people under 35 are suffering more anxiety than other age groups, and anxiety in this age group has steadily risen.  Secondly, it appears that women are twice as likely as men to develop anxiety, with women under the age of 35 being at highest risk.

While these trends have been something suspected for some time, they are now supported by science: Women, and particularly women under 35, are more at risk for anxiety than men and even older women.

So why might this be?

I was very pleased to help make sense of the data for this great piece by Korin Miller for Glamour, that was later picked up by PopHerald, Bustle, and Madame Noire.


Anxiety expert and licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., says she’s not shocked by the latest findings—especially the fact that young people are heavily affected by anxiety. “Anxiety disorders for the last decade have been on the rise for young adults,” she says.


But why are so many women impacted by anxiety? Clark says science hasn’t yet found a reason, but it could be due to a few factors. One is evolution: Evolutionary scientists suggest women as caretakers have evolved to be more cautious and protective, whereas men have evolved to take more risks to provide, she explains.


Another is brain chemistry. Neuroscience has found that the brain structure that allows for communication between the right and left side of the brain—the corpus callosum—is larger in our brains, suggesting that we may be optimized for intuitive and analytical thinking (while guys’ brains are optimized for motor skills). “This brain difference is important when it comes to anxiety, or the ability to predict, feel, and protect against future risk,” Clark says. “For better or worse, women appear to be better able to identify and think about future risk, and this can translate into experiencing more anxiety.”


And, of course, hormones may also come into play. “Many studies have noted a correlation between female hormone fluctuation, emotional sensitivity, and anxiety,” Clark says. “Female hormones appear to facilitate more acute experiences of emotions which can lead to more anxiety.”


So, what can you do to lower the odds you’ll develop clinical anxiety? Clark recommends trying to stay on top of your anxiety and how you react when you do experience it. “Anxiety is a sensitive internal resource and a powerful motivator that has evolved to help protect the things we care about most,” she says. “Tuning into these positive aspects can help you use it as an advantage, whereas resisting or fighting it that make it worse. For many people struggling with anxiety, half the battle is in identifying and thinking about it differently.”


To read the full post, click HERE.

To read coverage of the story with my comments on MadameNoir, click HERE.


Alicia H. Clark, PsyD