Do you suffer from an anxiety disorder? There’s a good chance you’re also a woman, according to research.
Anxiety disorders—which include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and specific phobias—are extremely common, affecting about 18% of the population of the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
A new review published in the journal Brain & Behavior was designed to shed more light on these conditions. The researchers from Cambridge University set out to gain a clearer understanding of which population groups are most at-risk by analyzing the results of 48 prior studies.
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Their results show that anxiety disorders are far more common among women, who were nearly twice as likely to be affected as men. Other at-risk groups include adults under age 35, and people with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, COPD, diabetes, and cancer.
Location appears to matter, too. Worldwide, 4 out of every 100 people suffer from an anxiety disorder, but North America appears to have a higher than average rate (8 in 100), while East Asia had the lowest rate (3 in 100).
The researchers hope their findings will help raise more awareness for anxiety disorders. “There has been a lot of focus on depression—which is important—but anxiety is equally important and debilitating,” author Olivia Remes told BBC.com. “It is important for our health services to understand how common [the disorders] are, and which groups of people are at greatest risk.”
If you suspect you might be suffering from an anxiety disorder, it’s worth talking to your primary care physician, or a mental health professional. “Many people get anxious when they have a test, or have to speak in front of people, or if they are in a new situation,” says New York-based clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis, PhD, author of Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy. “However, if anxiety persists beyond these events, it may be time to get help.”