Anxiety disorders are not only associated with the pressures of an urban lifestyle but also affect people living in deprived areas equally or in some cases more severely. A new study, conducted by the researchers from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, has found that women living in deprived conditions and poor areas have a 60 per cent higher risk of developing anxiety disorders. However, the same results were not found in men. In their case, living in rich or poor areas showed very little difference in their anxiety levels. These findings were published in the journal BMJ Open.
Anxiety can come in many forms like panic attacks, excessive worrying or stressing, negative thoughts or a feeling of nervousness. Anxiety disorders can be precursors to some serious mental illnesses like chronic depression, psychotic disorders or bipolar behaviour. They can interfere with your ability to lead a normal life. A lot of previous studies have linked several lifestyle factors with the risk of developing anxiety disorders like poor upbringing or personal weaknesses and fears, but this study looks are the effects of the environment in which a person lives on his or brain health.
It has been seen that poor living conditions do not only mean inadequate facilities, they also significantly increase the risk of mental disorders and a shorter life expectancy. To prove their point, researchers studied health and lifestyle questionnaires completed by 21,000 people in and around Norwich (East England) between 1993-2000. The participants had been recruited as part of the EPIC-Norfolk study which was set up to look at the connection between their diet, lifestyle factors and cancer. The results of the analysis showed that one in 40 women (2.5%) and one in 55 men (1.8%) were found to have generalized anxiety disorder. Women living in the most deprived areas were over 60% more likely to suffer from anxiety than those better neighborhoods. This association between deprivation and anxiety was not seen in men.
According to first author Olivia Remes, PhD candidate at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, women in deprived areas not only have to have cope with the effects of living in poverty, but their daily pressures can also have a damaging impact on their mental health.
Why are women at a higher risk?
The team of researchers believe that because women are more attached to their communities and tend to stay at home to fulfill their domestic duties, the stress of staying in impoverished areas and unsatisfactory living conditions affects them more. Moreover, women take on multiple responsibilities like managing the house, kids and keeping the family together and at the same time trying to earn to meet their daily demands – all of which puts an extra pressure on them. However, the study does point out that while men may be less susceptible to anxiety, they may turn to alcohol or substance abuse as a way to cope with stress.
Home remedies for anxiety
According to the Indian Ayurvedic Science, certain herbs can help relieve anxiety and calm your mind. One such herbal medicine is Ashwagandha. You can mix half a teaspoon of ashwagandha powder in a glass of warm milk and consume about half an hour before going to bed at night. Even a cup of chamomile tea is known for its soothing effects – these flowers grow wild all around the world. Meditation can be an effective and inexpensive way to release all the pent-up negative energy. Just 10 minutes of meditation focusing on your breath is great to strengthen your mind, boost inner peace, make you feel more confident and help you concentrate on the present moment