Why Men are Diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder Less Often Than Women

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

There are approximately 40 million adults in the United States with some type of anxiety disorder. Although women are diagnosed with anxiety more often than men, there are still many men suffering from the different types of anxiety.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, men are equal in diagnosis for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder. [1]

Reasons Why Men May Be Diagnosed with Anxiety Less Often than Women

ome experts believe, however, that the discrepancy of diagnosis between men and women may be explained because symptoms of anxiety, especially panic disorder, can be confused with a mild heart attack. Symptoms of a panic attack include chest pain, pounding heart, and shortness of breath.

These are also symptoms of heart attack and since men have a higher incidence rate of heart attack, doctor's may mistakenly diagnose heart attack.

Another reason that more women are diagnosed with anxiety more often than men may be that women are more apt to seek out and accept treatment. Seeking treatment for any medical condition may be seen as a weakness to men; seeking help for anxiety, a fear-based illness, is even more difficult as men are supposed to be the "strong" sex, both physically and emotionally.

Doctors, maybe because of the lower rate of anxiety in men, are more ready to attach symptoms of anxiety to a physical illness in men and are more willing to accept a psychological disorder in women.

Men are more likely to self-treat anxiety symptoms with alcohol. According to the article, "Panic Disorders in Men" [HealthyPlace], men with agoraphobia are twice as likely as women with agoraphobia to be alcoholics.

Women are more likely to have agoraphobia with panic disorder while men are more apt to have panic disorder by itself. Because of the higher severity and increased number of symptoms from both types of anxiety disorders, women would be more likely to receive a diagnosis [American Journal of Psychiatry].

Because society so often associates mental illness and emotional disorders with women, men madismiss such a diagnosis, opting instead for the more manly diagnosis of a heart attack of other physical illness. Anxiety can be treated, but only when accurately diagnosed and accepted. Unfortunately, when anxiety disorders go untreated it can lead to failed relationships, unsuccessful careers and dissatisfaction with life.


[1] "Anxiety Disorders", Updated 2009, June 1, Author Unknown, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health

"Panic Disorders in Men", 2007, Feb 18, Staff Writer, HealthyPlace.com

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.