Women at higher risk of anxiety: Says Cambridge University

LONDON, June 7: Women are almost twice as likely to experience anxiety as men, according to an international study released Monday by the University of Cambridge.

Aside from women, young people, who are under the age of 35, are disproportionately affected by such mental health problems, the study shows.

Anxiety disorders, which often manifest as excessive worry, fear, and a tendency to avoid potentially stressful situations including social gatherings, are some of the most common mental health problems in the Western world.

There have been many studies looking at the number of people affected by anxiety disorders. In an attempt to synthesize the various studies, a team led by researchers from the University of Cambridge conducted a global review of systematic reviews. Out of over 1,200 reviews, the researchers identified 48 that matched their criteria for inclusion.

The team found that the overall proportion of people affected remained largely unchanged, with around four out of every 100 experiencing anxiety. The highest proportion of people with anxiety is in North America, where almost eight out of every 100 people are affected; the proportion is lowest in East Asia, where less than three in 100 people have this mental health problem.

People with other health conditions are also far more likely to experience such symptoms, according to the study. For example, around one in ten adults with cardiovascular disease and living in Western countries are affected by generalized anxiety disorder, with women showing higher anxiety levels than men.

“Anxiety disorders can make life extremely difficult for some people and it is important for our health services to understand how common they are and which groups of people are at greatest risk,” said Olivia Remes from the University of Cambridge, one of the authors of the study.

However, the analysis also showed that data on some populations was lacking or of poor quality. “Although many groups have examined this important topic, significant gaps in research remain,” said Louise Lafortune, senior research associate at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health.

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