Women in their late 60s are the group most likely to be admitted to hospital for anxiety problems, new figures have revealed.
More than six out of 10 hospital admissions for anxiety were among women, but 28 per cent of the total admissions across both sexes were for women aged 60 and over.
A report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) also shows that women aged between 65 and 69 were the most affected, whereas men aged 45 to 49 were most likely to need hospital treatment for their anxiety.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, explained: “Many women tend to take the caring role and it is not surprising that when they reach their 60s the emotional burden of care can become intolerable.
"The majority of the carers who contact us are women who may be responsible for partners facing illness, elderly parents or children.
“Women who find themselves bearing these responsibilities tend to neglect their own physical and mental health until they reach crisis point,” she said.
The figures also reveal the number of people who were admitted to hospital suffering from stress.
Three-quarters of all patients admitted were under 50, with girls aged 15 to 19 and men aged 40 to 44 accounting for most admissions.
Overall, 55% of admissions for stress were among men.
Almost 90 per cent anxiety cases and 80 per cent of stress cases were emergency admissions, with the highest rates of admission being in Merseyside, and the lowest in the Thames Valley region.
However, the figures also showed that hospital admissions in the 12 months to November fell by more than 2% for anxiety and almost 14% for stress.
Sam Challis, information manager at mental health charity Mind, said: “The fact hospital admissions for stress were amongst the highest in women age 15 to 19 underlines the concerning scale of severe mental health problems amongst young girls.
"Hospitalisation in itself should be a last resort when it comes to mental health treatment. It is an indication that a patient has reached crisis point, that they have nowhere else to turn and need urgent help."
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Anxiety and stress are common conditions and can be devastating for people affected.
"That's why this week we have launched a new agreement to improve care for those in crisis and, through the mandate, we have set a clear objective for NHS England to make sure mental health services are on a par with physical health."
Additional reporting by PA