According to recent statistics provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (2013), American women are twice as likely as men to face diagnosis with an anxiety disorder. While there are existing bodies of sociological and feminist work theorizing both the social construction of mental illness categories and the historical pathologization of women, there is no contemporary dialogue centered on gendered disparity in anxiety diagnosis rates. In this paper, I contribute to ongoing discussion of neoliberal influence on the gendering of mental illness through an exploration of the forces contributing to disparity in rates of diagnosis with anxiety disorders. In response to themes brought to light while analyzing survey data provided by 69 college students, my work focuses on the influence personal experience has on perception, contradictions between the biological and the social, and constructions of masculinity. I conclude by arguing the necessity of an American mental health justice movement that recognizes the neoliberal state, rather than the individual, as the primary site of anxiety production.


Craven, Christa

Second Advisor

Tierney, Thomas


Sociology and Anthropology; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Medicine and Health | Women's Studies


anxiety, anxiety disorder, mental health, women, gender

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



© Copyright 2014 Sara Tebeau