Women and Anxiety


Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions - just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes. Anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United States. An estimated 264 million people worldwide have an anxiety disorder.5 Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. In the past year, prevalence of any anxiety disorder was higher for females (23.4%) than for males (14.3%).1 The term "anxiety disorder" refers to specific psychiatric disorders that involve extreme fear or worry, and includes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)panic disorder and panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety, and specific phobias. 

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Feeling nervous, irritable or on edge
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation), sweating, and/or trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems

If you or someone you know express one or more symptoms, please seek professional help. 

Types of Anxiety Disorders 

Generalized Anxiety Disorders, or GAD, includes excessive anxiety and worry about ordinary activities or events such as health, family, money or work. GAD can disrupt every day life by interfering with work, school or family. Learn more about GAD here. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions.2

Panic Disorder is diagnosed in people who experience spontaneous ad unexpected panic attacks and are very preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack. Because these attacks are so unpredictable, many women may have intense anxiety between panic attacks.3

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.4 Five out of ten women experience a traumatic event and women tend to experience different traumas than men. Learn more about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder here.

Social Anxiety is diagnosed when people become overwhelmingly anxious and self-conscious in every situations. Learn more about Social Anxiety here. 


Treatment options and resources are usually the same for women as men, with the exception of women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. Anxiety can worsen, improve, or stay the same during pregnancy, and that may affect treatment. Learn about medication use during pregnancy here.

Most people who seek treatment experience significant improvement and enjoy an improved quality of life. Find a Therapist.

Join the ADAA online support group or find a local support group near you.

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Other Resources

  1. NIMH. (2017). Any Anxiety Disorder. 
  2. International OCD Foundation. (2018). What is OCD?
  3. Womenshealth.gov. (2018). Panic disorder. 
  4. National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  5. Our World Data. (2018). Mental Health.
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