Mental health is such an important conversation to be having, and our culture is doing a better job of it than ever, from celebrities who are speaking up about living with anxiety and depression to studies that tell us that body shaming makes you sick or how teens’ social media habits affect mental health. With every new development, we’re learning more and more about mental health, and what we can do about it. A new study is now giving us more insight into who exactly suffers from anxiety. Which is a great thing, since 40 million adults in the US are affected by it.


Researchers from the University of Cambridge looked at more than 1,200 studies on anxiety (they studied studies, in other words) in order to figure out who, statistically, is most at risk for developing the disorder. What they found was that women are twice as likely as men to develop anxiety — about nine percent of women experience anxiety. Yikes. The researchers do note, though, that social stigma might mean it’s less likely that men report or seek help for their struggles with anxiety, so it’s difficult to know for sure if those numbers are totally accurate.

In terms of when people develop anxiety, the researchers found that, globally, people under the age of 35 are much more likely to have anxiety, except for in Pakistan, the researchers say, where the mid-life stage tends to be associated with more anxiety. In other words: Millennial women are most at risk for experiencing anxiety.

But the researchers point out that there needs to be more research into who develops anxiety. In the 1,200 studies they used, they had a difficult time finding previous research on anxiety in LGBT communities, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups. In other words, our wider conversations about mental health need to diversify and dig deeper to really figure out who’s affected, and therefore what to do to help.

Do you struggle with anxiety? Share your story with us @BritandCo.

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