Why are Women more Anxious than Men?

Globally, women and young adults (under 35) are suffering the most with women almost twice as likely as men to experience anxiety

Brain and Behavior Journal recently published a research paper about anxiety in the adult population which looked at about a thousand other anxiety studies. They defined anxiety disorder as “excess worry, hyperarousal, and fear that is counterproductive and debilitating.” Some of the findings include:

  • In America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder, costing the United States $42 billion a year.
  • Less attention research, and funding has been devoted to anxiety compared with depression.
  • Four out of every 100 people experience anxiety around the world.
  • There is a growing link between anxiety disorder and opioid addiction.
  • Untreated anxiety has been associated with significant personal and societal costs such as frequent primary and acute care visits, decreased work productivity, unemployment, and impaired social relationships.
  • Globally, women and young adults (under 35) are suffering the most with women almost twice as likely as men to experience anxiety.
  • Suggested reasons for the gender gap include pregnancy, differences in brain chemistry and hormonal fluctuations, or how men and women tend to cope with stress differently.

Here are some further reasons why I think women have twice as much anxiety than men:

  • More and more women are working outside the home AND managing the home and the kids (constant multi-tasking), whereas men tend to have a much more singular focus on their work.
  • Media and social media pressure upon women to live up to unattainable standards of appearance.
  • Lack of community and generational family support for young mothers.
  • The Paradox of Choice.
  • Women have more relationships than men, get more involved in friends’ lives,  and feel more empathy with people.
  • The increase in single motherhood.
  • More married women bearing the burden of being the primary provider for the family.
  • The hook-up culture which seems to psychologically impact women more than men. See What has our hook-up culture done to women?
  • Woman admit to anxiety more than men do.
  • Perhaps most of all: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen. 3:16). There’s something about the whole child-bearing, child-rearing process that multiplies anxiety for women.

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand, and is used with permission.