Are Women More Anxious Than Men?

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Are women more anxious than men?

Check out this answer from Consensus:

Women are more anxious than men due to a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors. Hormonal fluctuations, higher levels of negative affect, role overload, and greater susceptibility to stress all contribute to this gender disparity. Understanding these factors is crucial for developing targeted interventions to reduce anxiety levels in women and improve their overall mental health.

Anxiety disorders are a prevalent mental health issue affecting millions worldwide. Research consistently shows that women report higher levels of anxiety and are more likely to develop anxiety disorders compared to men. This article explores the various factors contributing to this gender disparity, including biological, psychological, and social influences.

Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders

Studies have consistently found that women have higher prevalence rates of anxiety disorders than men. For instance, women are more likely to meet lifetime criteria for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), simple phobia, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. The lifetime and 12-month male-to-female prevalence ratios of any anxiety disorder are approximately 1:1.7 and 1:1.79, respectively.

Biological Factors

Biological differences between men and women play a significant role in the prevalence of anxiety disorders. Hormonal fluctuations, particularly those related to the female reproductive cycle, significantly influence anxiety levels. Sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone modulate serotonin transporter genes, affecting serotonin availability and contributing to anxiety. Additionally, women are more vulnerable to the anxiogenic effects of immune-inflammatory pathways, which increase the production of anxiety-inducing tryptophan catabolites (TRYCATs).

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors also contribute to the higher anxiety levels observed in women. Women typically report higher levels of negative affect, such as fear, irritability, and confusion, in response to stressors compared to men. Furthermore, women are more likely to experience comorbid conditions such as major depressive disorder and bulimia nervosa, which exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

Social and Environmental Factors

Socialization processes and environmental stressors significantly impact anxiety levels in women. Women often face higher levels of stress due to the dual burden of domestic and occupational responsibilities. This role overload can lead to a lower sense of personal control, further increasing anxiety levels. Additionally, women are more susceptible to the anxiogenic impact of sleep loss, which is linked to structural differences in brain morphology.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress is a well-known trigger for anxiety, and women appear to be more susceptible to its effects. Younger women experience more stressful relationship events, illness events, and network events than men of the same age, contributing to higher anxiety levels. Chronic stress induces neuroimmune alterations, such as activation of the brain’s immune cells and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression, which are more pronounced in women and contribute to anxiety.



Are women more anxious than men?

Laurence Coutellier has answered Near Certain

An expert from Ohio State University in Neuroscience

In term of prevalence, women are twice as likely as men to develop a mood disorder, including depression and anxiety. However, it is unknown why this is the case.


Are women more anxious than men?

Anthony Jorm has answered Likely

An expert from University of Melbourne in Psychology, Psychiatry

Yes, they tend to me. While anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders are found in both women and men, the prevalence is higher in women.


Are women more anxious than men?

Sophia Yen has answered Likely

An expert from Pandia Health in Women’s Health

The National Comorbidity Survey (NCS; conducted from 1990 to 1992) found that lifetime prevalence rates for any anxiety disorder were 30.5% for women and 19.2% for men (Kessler et al., 1994). Prevalence rates were also higher in women than men for each anxiety disorder examined, including panic disorder (PD; 5.0% vs. 2.0%), agoraphobia (AG; 7.0% vs. 3.5%), specific phobia (15.7% vs. 6.7%), social anxiety disorder (SAD; 15.5% vs. 11.1%), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; 6.6% vs. 3.6%; Kessler et al., 1994), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; 10.4% vs. 5.0%; Kessler, et al., 1995). Although prevalence estimates for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) were not included in the NCS data, lifetime prevalence estimates for this disorder based on the Epidemiological Catchment Area study were also higher in women than in men (3.1% vs. 2.0%; Breslau et al., 2000).


Are women more anxious than men?

Amy Yee has answered Uncertain

An expert from Tufts University in Women’s Health, Cancer

Unknown. That is a subjective question that does not lend to generalizations. This is an individual issue, not a gender one.


Are women more anxious than men?

Sara Nowakowski has answered Near Certain

An expert from Baylor College of Medicine in Psychology, Sleep Research

Lifetime prevalence rates for Generalized Anxiety Disorder are 2.8% in men and 5.3% in women. There is a 2:1 ratio of women reporting feeling more anxious then men over the lifespan. Men with anxiety report higher rates of alcohol, nicotine, and drug use. Women with anxiety report higher rates of comorbid depression and a family history depression. Female reproductive hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, may play a critical role in the neurobiology of anxiety disorders in women. Although rates for seeking treatment for anxiety are low in both men and women.


Are women more anxious than men?

Julie Ji has answered Near Certain

An expert from University of Western Australia in Psychology

Yes, it is well established that more females are diagnosed with anxiety disorders than males. Worldwide prevalence rates for generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and posttraumatic anxiety disorder, as reported in the 2018 Mental disorders around the world: Facts and figures from the WHO World Mental Health surveys (


Are women more anxious than men?

Cara A Davidson has answered Uncertain

An expert from Western University in Health

This is an oversimplification of a nuanced condition. 


Are women more anxious than men?

Marianne Etherson has answered Near Certain

An expert from  York St John University in Psychology

Research suggests that women are more anxious than men. It is well documented that women are more likely to suffer from anxiety and be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. For instance, lifetime and past year rates of anxiety are reported to be 1.5 to 2 times higher in women than men.  


McLean, C. P., Asnaani, A., Litz, B. T., & Hofmann, S. G. (2011). Gender differences in anxiety disorders: prevalence, course of illness, comorbidity and burden of illness. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 45(8), 1027-1035. 

Remes, O., Brayne, C., Van Der Linde, R., & Lafortune, L. (2016). A systematic review of reviews on the prevalence of anxiety disorders in adult populations. Brain and Behavior, 6(7), e00497. 

World Health Organization (2021). Gender and women’s mental health. Mental Health and Substance Use.

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