The mental health of Australians 2

5.2 Prevalence of anxiety disorders in different population sub-groups

Page last updated: May 2009

5.2.1 Sex and age
5.2.2 Social and demographic characteristics

5.2.1 Sex and age

Females experienced a much higher rate of anxiety disorders compared to males (17.9% and 10.8% respectively). This was true for all types of anxiety disorders, except obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder. However, the trend in these disorders was also for higher prevalence in females (Table 5-1).

The prevalence of anxiety disorders was related to age, however, this relationship was different for males and females (Figure 5-1). For females aged 16-54 years the prevalence was very similar, with around one in five females experiencing anxiety disorders. The prevalence then declined for females 55 years and over. For males, the prevalence peaked in the 35-44 year age group (14.9%) and then declined with increasing age.

Figure 5-1: Prevalence of 12-month anxiety disorders by age and sex


This graph is described in section 5.2.1
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5.2.2 Social and demographic characteristics

The prevalence of anxiety disorders was highest in people who were widowed, separated or divorced (19.0%) and lowest in those who were married or in de facto relationships (13.3%). One in five (20.9%) people not in the labour force had anxiety disorders, compared to 13.0% of people in employment and 17.3% of people who were unemployed. The prevalence of anxiety disorders was associated with level of education, being highest in those who did not complete school (18.9%) and lowest among people with post-school qualifications (13.3%). There was no association between country of birth and anxiety disorders. However, there was a trend for people from non-English speaking countries to have a lower prevalence of anxiety disorder (9.9%) compared to those born in Australia (15.4%) or other English-speaking countries (14.0%) (Table 5-2).

Table 5-2: Prevalence of 12-month anxiety disorders by sex, marital status, labour force status, education and country of birth

Males (%)

Females (%)

Persons (%)

Marital status
Married/ de facto
10.1
16.1
13.3
Separated/ divorced/ widowed
16.3
20.3
19.0
Never married
13.4
19.4
16.2
Labour force status
Employed
10.7
15.5
13.0
Unemployed
10.9
22.7
17.3
Not in the labour force
16.9
23.1
20.9
Education
Post-school qualification
10.0
16.5
13.3
School qualification only
10.8
21.3
15.7
Did not complete school
14.9
22.5
18.9
Country of birth
Australia
11.5
19.2
15.4
Other English-speaking country
12.7
15.7
14.0
Non-English speaking country
5.8
13.5
9.9

Note: Numbers presented for marital status, labour force status and education are age-standardised.