Women are more likely to be affected by anxiety than men, with the welfare of children and loved ones a key cause of worry
Women are more likely to be affected by anxiety than men, with the welfare of children and loved ones a key cause of worry

Mental Health Awareness Week 2014: Nearly a quarter of women feel anxious all or a lot of the time

The figures, released by the Mental Health Foundation, showed that one in five people suffer from constant anxiety in everyday life

Antonia Molloy
Monday 12 May 2014 11:58

Nearly a quarter of women suffer from constant anxiety, according to new figures on the state of the UK’s mental health.

22 per cent of women feel anxious a lot or all of the time, compared to 15 per cent of men.

Worries concerning financial issues, the welfare of children and loved ones, and work issues are the main factors contributing to high levels of anxiety in everyday life, the Mental Health Foundation revealed in its Living With Anxiety report.

At the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, figures showed that almost one in five people feel anxious “nearly all of the time” or “a lot of the time” – far more than five years ago.

In a survey of 2,330 respondents carried out by YouGov, it was shown that only on in 20 people never feel anxious.

Students and the unemployed were the most susceptible to feelings of anxiety, while the likelihood of feeling anxious decreased with age.

And overall, women were more likely to feel anxious than men.

The survey defined “anxious as “generally feeling worried, nervous, or uneasy”.

45 per cent of people cited money/finance/debt as the main cause of anxiety in their lives, while 36 per cent said they were concerned for the welfare of their children and loved ones and 27 per cent said work issues such as long hours affected their state of mind.

Women and older people were more likely to fear for their loved ones, but older people were less likely to have financial worries.

Despite the large number of people affected by anxiety, nearly a fifth of respondents said they did nothing to cope with it.

The most commonly employed strategies were talking to a friend or relative or going for a walk, but 24 per cent also resorted to comfort eating in the face of anxious feelings.

The unemployed were more likely to use potentially damaging coping strategies such as alcohol and cigarettes.

Only seven per cent of people had sought help from their GP.

The report cited research that we are now living in “The Age of Anxiety”, defined by the pressures and uncertainties of modern life, such as balancing a demanding work and home schedule and the threat of terrorism.

However, despite the increasing prevalence of anxiety disorders, the report suggested that anxiety is still stigmatised, with 26 per cent of respondents saying they felt that feeling anxious was a sign of not being able to cope.

But 50 per cent disagreed with this statement and nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of people said anxiety was not something to be ashamed of.

The Mental Health Foundation concluded: “Perhaps the most important conclusion to be drawn from this report is the importance of framing anxiety as an essential aspect of our humanity.

“The findings of our survey show how anxiety stems as much from concern for family, friends and relationships as it does from the demand of the outside world.”

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