Women and Anxiety

Women & Anxiety

Women are 60% more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, and anxiety disorders occur at an earlier age in women than in men. Women are also more likely to have multiple psychiatric disorders during their lifetime. The most common condition to occur at the same time (or co-occur) as anxiety is depression.

Differences in brain chemistry may explain in part why women are affected more than men. The brain system involved in the fight-or-flight response is activated more readily in women and stays activated longer than in men, partly as a result of the action of estrogen and progesterone.

Anxiety During Pregnancy and Postpartum

During and after pregnancy (a time called “perinatal”), women may experience a perinatal anxiety disorder such as panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and/or generalized anxiety disorder. Often anxiety symptoms co-occur with perinatal depression. Symptoms can include:

  • panic attacks
  • hyperventilation
  • excessive worry
  • restless sleep
  • repeated thoughts or images of frightening things happening to the baby