Across the world, anxiety and depression are serious mental health disorders that shouldn’t be ignored. In many cases, men and women with these conditions are unable to function normally. The disorders can ruin their relationships, careers and even their health. However, anxiety and depression affect men and women differently.
How Anxiety Differs Between Men and Women
There are many types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress, separation anxiety, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.Prevalence of depression among adults aged 20 and over: United States, 2013—2016, Brody DJ, Pratt LA, Hughes J. NCHS Data Brief, no 303. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018. Anxiety develops from a complex series of risk factors, such as brain chemistry, life events, personality and genetics. All types cause excessive anxious feelings and behavioural disturbances, but the specific symptoms and prevalence of the disorders differ among men and women.
In both men and women, anxiety is associated with constant worry, fear and feelings of impending doom. These emotions can be so severe that they prevent people from working and getting enough sleep. During anxiety attacks, men and women can experience racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, and hot flashes or excessive sweating. They can have trouble concentrating and may be too careful about danger as well.
There are slight differences between the symptoms, though. Men are more likely to become agitated, worry about losing control and have muscle tension. Anxiety and depression in men, Better Health Channel Women are more likely to become physically weak and develop upset stomachs.
The World Health Organization reports that about 7.7% of people (1 in 13) around the world suffer from anxiety.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there’s a gap in the prevalence of anxiety in adult men and women. While 14.3% of men have anxiety, 23.4% of women have anxiety.
How Depression Differs Between Men and Women
Major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder, which used to be called dysthymia, are the most common types of depression among men and women. MDD can cause severe impairments that affect their lives. PDD causes a sad or dark mood for most of the day on most days for two years or longer. These depression disorders trigger similar and different symptoms in men and women, and the prevalence is distinct. In addition, there are other types of depression from which only women suffer.
The symptoms of depression across the types of disorders are relatively the same. Depression makes men and women feel sad, hopeless, worthless and useless. People tend to lose interest in activities that they previously enjoyed, and they may be angered or annoyed easily.
Men and women tend to suffer from restlessness and changes in sleep and eating patterns too. Because of that, they might not have energy to do anything and could noticeably gain or lose weight. Worst of all, people with depression can have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Separately, men are more likely to feel nervous, lose their libido and take unnecessary risks. They often begin abusing alcohol or drugs and can become violent. On the other hand, women tend to cry frequently and feel helpless.
According to WHO, depression is the chief cause of disability around the world, and MDD is the most common type. The NIMH reports that 5.5% of men have depression, while 10.4% of women develop it. In both men and women, those with lower incomes are more likely to develop depression than those with higher incomes.
Depression Specific to Women
Women go through different hormonal and physical changes than men at different stages of their lives. Because of that, there are a few types of depression that only women develop.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder — This disorder creates more severe symptoms than premenstrual syndrome, which most people know as PMS. Although less common, PMDD causes disabling symptoms such as bloating, muscle or joint pain, irritability, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts.
- Perinatal depression — This disorder develops during or after pregnancy. It can cause extreme anxiety, exhaustion and sadness, making it difficult for new mothers to care for their infants.
- Perimenopausal depression — Similar to PMDD, this disorder triggers abnormal symptoms compared to normal perimenopause. Some of these include anxiety, irritability, sadness and loss of enjoyment in once loved activities.
Treatment Is Available
Going to general physicians is a good starting point for men and women to get help for anxiety and depression. Doctors can assess what they feel and begin the treatment process. However, it’s vital for anyone who has these disorders to seek help from a psychiatrist or therapist. Such specialists have thorough training to treat these conditions and prevent them from developing again. Depression – treatment and management. (2019). Retrieved 21 July 2019 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of results, 2007, 2008, catalogue number 4326.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death Australia, 2011, 2013, catalogue number 3303.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics.
|↑1||Prevalence of depression among adults aged 20 and over: United States, 2013—2016, Brody DJ, Pratt LA, Hughes J. NCHS Data Brief, no 303. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018.|
|↑2||Anxiety and depression in men, Better Health Channel|
|↑3||Anxiety Disorders, The Office on Women’s Health, January 30, 2019|
|↑4||Facts and Statistics, Anxiety and Depression Association of America|
|↑5||Any Anxiety Disorder, National Institute of Mental Health, November 2017|
|↑6||Depression, The Office on Women’s Health, May 14, 2019|
|↑7||Major Depression, National Institute of Mental Health, February 2019|
|↑8||Depression in Women: 5 Things You Should Know, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH Publication No. TR 16-4779|
|↑9||Depression – treatment and management. (2019). Retrieved 21 July 2019|
|↑10||National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of results, 2007, 2008, catalogue number 4326.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics.|
|↑11||Causes of Death Australia, 2011, 2013, catalogue number 3303.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics.|