Who Is Most Likely to Experience Anxiety?

Q. Who is most likely to experience anxiety?

A. Women, younger adults, and people with chronic diseases are disproportionately affected by anxiety, according to a worldwide study published in 2016 in Brain and Behavior.

Researchers evaluated 48 high-quality reviews of studies that reported the prevalence of anxiety disorders among people of many different ages, backgrounds, and nationalities.

Women were approximately twice as likely as men to have an anxiety disorder; the prevalence of anxiety among women was as high as 9 percent. Anxiety disorders also were common among adults younger than age 35, with a prevalence of up to 9 percent.

As might be expected, anxiety is common among people with chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis (up to 32 percent), cancer (up to 23 percent), and cardiovascular disease (up to 11 percent).

The prevalence of anxiety among older adults varied widely from 1 percent to 28 percent. The most common anxiety disorder among older individuals was generalized anxiety disorder, with a prevalence as high as 5 percent.

If you find you are worrying excessively and experiencing fear, be sure to consult with your regular doctor or a mental health provider. Anxiety disorders put people at risk for other mood disorders and substance abuse—which can make treatment more difficult.

Jeff Bauer
Meet Our Writer
Jeff Bauer

Jeff Bauer is a healthcare journalist with expertise in psychiatry. He has served as editor of Current Psychiatry, a leading peer-reviewed clinical journal for psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners, and as educational content director for the U.S. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress, the nation's leading independent mental health continuing education conference.