Having feelings of stress and anxiety from time to time is normal. Healthy stress and anxiety pop up as fleeting, temporary feelings. However, there are people who have ongoing anxiety and worries that interfere with their day to day life. This level of continuous stress can make it challenging for individuals to leave their homes and socialize.
A recent study conducted by Cambridge University found that women living in poor or deprived areas were 60 percent more likely to have anxiety than women living in wealthier areas. This is in stark contrast to men, as the area they lived made no difference to their anxiety level.
Generalized anxiety is a disorder that has many similarities to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other types of anxiety. However, they are all unique in their own ways. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems in the western world. With that said, the estimated annual cost related to treatment is $42 million in the U.S. alone. While the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can vary from person to person, the following are most exhibited:
- Persistent worrying about small or large concerns, out of proportion to the impact of the event
- Restlessness or the inability to relax
- Difficulty concentrating
- Worrying about excessively worrying
- Fear of making the wrong decisions leading to distress
It may also have various physical manifestations, including:
- Muscle tension
- Easily startled
- Trouble sleeping
- Nausea, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome
The researchers collected data from nearly 21,000 people in and around Norwich, east England who participated in the EPIC-Norfolk study between 1993–2000. The researchers found that one in 40 women and one in 22 men had generalized anxiety disorder. Women were 60 percent more likely to have the affliction than women living in areas that were not deprived. This association was not seen in men.
“Anxiety disorders can be very disabling, affecting people’s life, work, and relationships, and increasing the risk of depression, substance misuse, and serious medical conditions. We see from our study that women who live in deprived areas not only have to cope with the effects of living in poverty but are also much more susceptible to anxiety than their peers. In real terms, given the number of people living in poverty worldwide, this puts many millions of women at increased risk of anxiety,” says first author Olivia Remes.
The research team acknowledges that it’s difficult to confirm such a statement, but say that their analysis supports it. This finding may be the result of a domestic lifestyle, as women often stay at home alone. They also note that women have to balance earning income, bearing children, and even being a caretaker, all of which adds to their burden.
“Anxiety disorders affect a substantial number of people and can lead to poor health outcomes and risk of suicide. Now we know that women are particularly affected by deprivation, while men less so. This is intriguing and further research is needed on this, particularly in the most deprived regions,” explains professor Carol Brayne.