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Women under 35 most likely to visit doctor with anxiety

Monday 13th June 2016
Anxiety is most common in women and under-35s, according to a new study. Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz via iStock
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Women aged 35 and under are the people most likely to visit their doctor seeking help for anxiety disorders, according to new research.

A study carried out at the University of Cambridge led to the discovery that people living in Western Europe and North America are more likely to be affected by anxiety, with the condition manifesting itself in a variety of symptoms.

For example, regularly feeling a sense of dread, sweating, restlessness, nausea, shortness of breath and muscle tension can all be signs of generalised anxiety disorder.

It is believed that more than 60 million people throughout Europe are affected by some form of anxiety disorder every year, so the authors of the new study set out to explore common factors among sufferers to try to gain a better understanding of the condition.

Olivia Remes, lead author of the research, explained: "Anxiety disorders can make life extremely difficult for some people, and it is important for our health services to understand how common they are and which groups of people are at greatest risk."

Overall, women are more likely than men to experience anxiety, but both males and females aged under 35 are at greater risk of experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder than their older counterparts.

What's more, it was found that people with other chronic illnesses were also more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, with 32 per cent of multiple sclerosis patients and 10.9 per cent of those with cardiovascular disease found to have an anxiety disorder as well.

Among pregnant women and those who had recently given birth, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) - a specific type of anxiety - was found to be especially common, demonstrating that different forms of the condition are often present in different groups of people. In the general population, just one in 100 people have OCD, but this figure doubles among expectant and new mothers.

Ms Remes concluded: "By collecting all these data together, we see that these disorders are common across all groups, but women and young people are disproportionately affected."

Written by James Puckle

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