Women are nearly twice as likely to experience anxiety as men, a global review reveals. The Cambridge University authors also determined young people under 35 and those living with chronic health conditions are particularly affected.

They estimate that four in every 100 people have anxiety. The authors reviewed 48 published studies. Their findings were published in the journal Brain and Behavior, the global review found that more than 60 million people were affected by anxiety disorders every year in the European Union.

North America had a higher incidence, with eight in 100 people having anxiety, and East Asia least affected (three in 100).

Although the proportion of people suffering with this mental health problem stayed fairly constant between 1990 and 2010, it was a problem which was rarely researched, unlike depression. The authors noted  more research is needed to find out which other communities are at high risk.


In a review of the study, Olivia Remes, from the department of public health and primary care at the University of Cambridge, wrote  anxiety disorders could make life extremely difficult.

“There has been a lot of focus on depression – which is important – but anxiety is equally important and debilitating; it can lead to the development of other diseases and psychiatric disorders,  increase the risk for suicide and is associated with high costs to society.”

She added: “It is important for our health services to understand how common they are and which groups of people are at greatest risk.”


What is an Anxiety Disorder?

It’s feelings of worry, fear and unease which persist for a long time and become overwhelming, affecting everyday life.

Physical sensations such as raised blood pressure, feeling nauseous and disrupted sleeping are common.

At this point, it becomes a mental health problem and a diagnosis of a specific anxiety disorder can be given.

Gender Differences

Globally, women were found to be twice as likely to experience anxiety as men.  The review did not determine why these gender differences, exist, but has been known for years, women are  generally at greater risk of experiencing anxiety disorders.   Ms. Remes indicated this could be because of hormonal fluctuations or because women are more prone to stress in general, or because of their traditional role of caring for the young. It could also be due to unique societal gender based expectations placed on women.

The similar incidence of anxiety among millenials tends to indicate external factors-possibly economic conditions are involved.

The review said people with a chronic health condition were at particular risk, “adding a double burden on their lives”.

For example, 32% of people with multiple sclerosis have an anxiety disorder and 15 to 23% of cancer patients are affected.

The review also noted that data on anxiety was particularly lacking in some populations, such as indigenous cultures, and some communities, like drug users, sex workers and lesbian, gay and bisexual people.


How to Better Manage Anxiety

Often we feel we have no control over the situations that triggers anxiety, but we do.  Here’s a few tips:

  1. Re-perceive the stressful situation: The most important thing you can do is to pay attention to your responses to a triggering situation, listen to your inner dialogue and change it to thoughts that are more positive and encouraging.
  2. Focus on your Breathing: Deep breathing always helps to interrupt the stress response.
  3. Exercise regularly
  4. Improve Your Diet: Eat at least 7 servings of vegetables and plants every day. They improve brain function, reduce anxiety and depression. ly fast foods
  5. Meditate: Meditation interrupts the stress response and
  6. Get adequate sleep (Most people need 7.5 to 8 hours every night. Sleep depression enhances anxiety.
  7. Take L-Theanine (a Green tea extract proven to interrupt the brain’s response to stress and promote better cognitive functioning
  8. Take adaptogenic herbs-Rhodiola, Ashwaganda, and Ginseng all help the body to adapt to stress and function more effectively.
  9. Before you begin any treatment you should discuss your options with your doctor.