Anxiety can affect anyone.
Many people deal with anxiety at some point in their lives, and it is a relatively common mental health condition. However, some people are more likely to struggle with anxiety than others. In fact, anxiety affects more women than men.
In general, women tend to ruminate, or obsess, more over problems they are dealing with more in comparison to men. Why is that?
There are a variety of reasons. Some hypothesize that the difference is influenced by biology and hormones. Others believe that culture and sexism play a role.
There are many possible explanations for the discrepancy. Here are a few possible reasons why women spend more time ruminating and are more likely to experience anxiety than men.
Hormones are very powerful. They can cause changes in your brain chemistry and have a major impact on your mindset and behavior. For that reason, hormonal changes and imbalances have been linked to mental health conditions like anxiety.
It’s no exaggeration to say that women go through many hormonal changes throughout their lives, which can result in anxiety. For instance, pregnant women are more likely to have OCD, as are postpartum women.
On the other hand, testosterone is thought to ease symptoms of anxiety. This seems to make it easier for men to power through those uncomfortable feelings, while women feel a stronger need to process their emotions and reflect on what they’re going through.
Neither way of dealing with difficult emotions is necessarily better or worse—they’re just different approaches!
Unfortunately, being a victim of abuse can make someone more likely to experience anxiety later in life. That being said, statistics show that young girls are at a greater risk of facing violence or abuse than young boys. And the effects of this early trauma do not necessarily go away as an adult.
Victims of abuse often struggle with anxiety (which can sometimes become severe), depression, and other mental health conditions. For many, it can take years to feel ready to open up to a therapist about what happened. In the meantime, anxiety and obsessions can become an integral part of a woman’s life.
Negative Attributional Style
When plans go awry or you make a mistake, are you more likely to blame yourself outright, or would you assume that your circumstances affected the outcome? Usually, the answer is a little bit of both.
However, some solely blame themselves. This is known as the “negative attributional style.” Simply put, some people are more likely to attribute negative outcomes to their own shortcomings. Even if plenty of others made mistakes, they generally feel that problems occurring in their presence are their fault.
Women are more likely than men to display a negative attributional style. A woman who is very hard on herself whenever she makes a small mistake is generally going to experience high levels of anxiety as well.
Responding to Others’ Anxiety
Finally, society often encourages women to be very nurturing and empathetic. Although we have made huge strides towards equality between men and women over the past few decades, certain ideas about traditional gender roles do still linger.
As a result, women may feel that they are responsible for “managing” the emotions of other people. For example, a woman may be more likely to feel that if someone else is distressed, it’s her job to step in and comfort the person. While kindness toward someone can make you feel good, for some, this situation can contribute to personal levels of anxiety.
Are you struggling with anxiety? Do you feel like you’ve exhausted every tactic trying to manage it on your own? Seeking help from a therapist could be the right next step for you.
I invite you to reach out to me if you’re interested in more information or discussing options for therapy sessions.