Why Women Have More Anxiety Than Men

When it comes to some mental health conditions, particularly anxiety, it matters whether you’re male or female.

Women are almost twice as likely to experience anxiety as men, says a 2016 University of Cambridge review of studies.

Why women?

Biology can explain only some of the differences.

Hormonal changes across a woman’s life – during puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause - have been linked to anxiety. Women also tend to be more prone to stress and to have different coping mechanisms than men. They are more likely to spend more time thinking about life stressors, which can increase anxiety, while men tend to engage more in active, problem-focused coping.

But there are certain life events that can particularly affect women. Beyond Blue and Jean Hailes have identified a number of factors that can impact women’s mental health, including:

  • Caring for others. Women do most of the caregiving, whether for a partner, elderly parents, and/or children. While it can be a very positive experience for many, caring can affect your physical and mental health, financial security and independence, particularly if caring for people who are ill, frail or with a disability.
  • Infertility and miscarriage. The grief and loss of infertility and miscarriage can be devastating for women and is often experienced privately, which can further impact mental health.
  • Pregnancy, having a baby and becoming a mother. For some women, adjusting to the major life change and challenges of early motherhood leaves them more likely to experience depression and anxiety.
  • Menopause. Hormone changes in the years leading to menopause can contribute to depression and anxiety. The physical changes of menopause – hot flushes, night sweats, interrupted sleep and weight gain – can also impact mental health.
  • Relationships. Conflict at home, particularly physical and mental abuse, can cause great fear and anxiety. Women who are separated, divorced or widowed are more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. As well as feelings of loss and grief, the end of a relationship can affect financial security, social connections, housing and relationships with children.
  • Money worries. Stress over money is common and can affect your mental wellbeing. According to a recent BlackRock study focusing on the relationship between wealth and wellbeing, money is a top worry amongst the 27,000 people they asked worldwide. In many of these cases, women indicated that finances caused higher levels of stress than men did.