The Definition Of Anxiety For Various Types Of People

Updated January 29, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers

Anxiety is an emotion that can affect anyone. When anxiety becomes an anxiety disorder, it may seem like there is one type of person that is affected. However, although women tend to be more susceptible to anxiety, people of all kinds can get anxiety. Some statistics suggest certain trends in anxiety, but risk factors can make an impact on anyone’s life. Awareness of how anxiety might be defined as a teenager or a firefighter or a member of the LGBTQ+ community can bring light to its inability to discriminate.


While one individual might define anxiety as the inability to leave their home, another may avoid motor vehicles. Someone with anxiety might be terrified of enclosed spaces while someone else has panic attacks in an open space. Anxiety disorders do not always present in the same ways for everyone. Defining what anxiety might look like various types of people might help you to understand that you don’t have to dismiss your anxiety because it doesn’t match up to your neighbor’s. You can seek counseling and receive successful treatment for your anxiety disorder even when it doesn’t sound like someone else’s anxiety.

Statistics And Demographics Of Anxiety Patients

Forty million adults in the United States are affected by anxiety disorders each year. That’s more than 18% of the nation’s population. Unfortunately, less than half of those people get treatment. Of those 40 million adults, nearly 7 million suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, 6 million have panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder has numbers above 15 million. Phobias add another 19 million to the total, and OCD totals more than 2 million. If you’re a math person, you know that those numbers reach far more than 40 million – meaning that numerous people suffer from more than one kind of anxiety disorder.

The demographics related to these numbers might surprise you. What’s the difference between women and men with anxiety disorders? Why do some children develop anxiety while others don’t experience it until adulthood? What jobs cause anxiety disorders? Understanding the answers to these questions and a variety of risk factors may help you to grasp how anxiety affects different people.

Women And Men

Women are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder than men. This statement is specific to the types of anxiety, but the majority of anxiety cases are women. For example, a woman is twice as likely to have a generalized anxiety disorder as a man. The same goes for panic disorder and phobias. Women are also more likely to develop PTSD, but in the case of rape, male victims are more likely than their female counterparts to develop the disorder.

Several anxiety disorders are common among both men and women equally. Included in this group are social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Other similarities between males and females with anxiety disorders are that both groups tend to have hospital and doctor visits than those without anxiety disorders.


On the opposite side of things, women with anxiety tend to miss more work than men with the same conditions. Studies also show that women with anxiety have little relation to getting help with substance abuse – women without anxiety have the same numbers in this type of counseling. Men with anxiety, however, tend to go to substance abuse counseling for more than a man without anxiety.

With this information, you may conclude that although women with anxiety are more prevalent, men also experience anxiety disorders. Some components are harder for men and some that are harder for women. Many of the differences can be explained with logic. For example, men traditionally feel the need to provide for their families. Despite their anxiety, men still force themselves to go to work so that they can continue to do that.

Both men and women with anxiety may benefit from seeking help in the form of a counselor or therapist. There is treatment available for every type of person. Some may prefer an in-office, face to face visit. Others may prefer to do an online messaging kind of therapy. Treatment should not be avoided because it might be uncomfortable. Find the best option for you and try out a session, to begin with. Men and women alike may be surprised to find the type of treatment that works best for them.

Teens And Children

A quarter of teens from the age of 13 to 18 are affected by anxiety disorders. Perhaps the most commonly thought of anxiety disorder for children is separation anxiety. Many kids feel this as a toddler when mom or dad goes to work, when left at daycare, or when put in their room. This kind of separation anxiety is normal, and children tend to grow out of it. However, when older kids still feel this way, they may have a separation anxiety disorder. 4% of kids have this anxiety disorder.

An anxiety disorder that is prevalent in teens is social anxiety. With the pressures of school and making friends, some teens develop social anxiety. This is a disorder in which the person is extremely fearful of being embarrassed or judged. The fear can be so much that the individual doesn’t want to attend school, make friends, or spend time in the presence of their peers. Social anxiety disorder is present in more than 9% of teens.

Children and teens can also have GAD, panic disorder, OCD, phobias, selective mutism, and PTSD. Counseling is a common treatment for these concerns, but the sessions are typically altered to fit the age of the patient. For example, a 5-year-old may talk as they draw and may have the whole family present. Teens, on the other hand, would likely clam up if their whole family was sitting in the same room. Therapists and the sessions they use to treat children and teen patients are often adaptable to the situation at hand.


Anxiety Disorders Caused By Profession

All kinds of jobs have the power to cause anxiety disorders. Workplace stress is a huge problem when it comes to causing anxiety disorders. Think of highly stressful jobs: active duty military, police, firefighters, EMS, trauma doctors, ER nurses, pilots. These, among many, many others, are incredibly stressful jobs. With these particular jobs, stress is likely related to the idea of having the lives of others in your hands. Also, these professions are often those that witness terrible things.

First responders see horrifying and gory events as a part of their day job. They experience another person’s worst day and often have to witness what becomes of it. These events can harm the mind. PTSD and other anxiety disorders are common among the people in these jobs. In fact, first responders are 20% more likely to commit suicide than the general population. For these people, anxiety disorders and depression are dark and scary things. Treatment options for them and all suffering from these disorders must be made known.

Minority Groups

It is estimated that approximately half of the LGBTQ+ population deals with anxiety disorders. Racial minorities often experience anxiety as a result of discrimination. African American individuals experience anxiety more than any other race. Additionally, low-income individuals and families tend to develop anxiety disorders more commonly than those of higher status.

Anxiety Disorders And Risk Factors

What causes anxiety? You now know that both men and women, teens, and children, people with stressful careers, and minorities can have to deal with anxiety disorders. This covers the entire population. You might assume that a black woman within the LGBTQ+ group working as a police officer would be far more likely to have an anxiety disorder than some other demographics. However, there are also other risk factors to consider.

  • Family members with anxiety disorder
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Other mental health issues
  • Excessive stress
  • Traumatic events
  • Physical health concerns

Being aware of the risk factors can help you to monitor your own. Knowing that these factors may push you into anxiety can help you to better care for yourself with regular exercise, a healthy diet, meditation, avoiding drinking alcohol and doing drugs, and exposure to sunlight. There are various ways in which you can reduce your stress level. Try a few so that the controllable risk factors might not be part of the cause of an anxiety disorder.

Does Everyone Receive The Same Treatment?

Treatment varies from person to person but has the same idea for all people. As previously mentioned, children are often treated differently in therapy sessions. However, one individual might not be a great candidate for medication, and someone else might do well with it. It is up to you and your mental health professional to determine the best course of action for your treatment.

Recovering From Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders do not have to control your life. With proper treatment and managing stress, you may find that your anxiety disorder has become a thing of the past. Recovering from an anxiety disorder can be hard work. It often requires months of one on one or group therapy. Counselors will often assign homework and fully expect you to do it. When you put in the work to get better, you can see an improvement in your mental health that allows you to live life again.


If you feel that anxiety has control over your life, seek help. Doing so can change your future.

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