Gender differences in anxiety disorders: prevalence, course of illness, comorbidity and burden of illness

J Psychiatr Res. 2011 Aug;45(8):1027-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.03.006. Epub 2011 Mar 25.

Abstract

Women have consistently higher prevalence rates of anxiety disorders, but less is known about how gender affects age of onset, chronicity, comorbidity, and burden of illness. Gender differences in DSM-IV anxiety disorders were examined in a large sample of adults (N=20,013) in the United States using data from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Studies (CPES). The lifetime and 12-month male:female prevalence ratios of any anxiety disorder were 1:1.7 and 1:1.79, respectively. Women had higher rates of lifetime diagnosis for each of the anxiety disorders examined, except for social anxiety disorder which showed no gender difference in prevalence. No gender differences were observed in the age of onset and chronicity of the illness. However, women with a lifetime diagnosis of an anxiety disorder were more likely than men to also be diagnosed with another anxiety disorder, bulimia nervosa, and major depressive disorder. Furthermore, anxiety disorders were associated with a greater illness burden in women than in men, particularly among European American women and to some extend also among Hispanic women. These results suggest that anxiety disorders are not only more prevalent but also more disabling in women than in men.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Anxiety Disorders* / economics
  • Anxiety Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Asian Americans
  • Bulimia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / ethnology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology