Anxiety is one of the most common mental health struggles people face and it’s not discriminatory, meaning it can affect everyone regardless of gender, race, sexuality, etc. However, the way different communities experience anxiety may vary, along with the root causes.
Let’s look at some common symptoms of anxiety in women, specifically.
4 Symptoms of Anxiety in Women
One common sign of anxiety in women is obsessive thoughts. These are persistent, recurring thoughts that are difficult to let go of.
You might ruminate on all the things that could possibly go wrong in a situation. Maybe you continuously go over a list of things in your head that could go wrong with a presentation at work—you stutter, the equipment malfunctions, you forget important details, etc.
Or perhaps you already think something is wrong. Maybe you ruminate on it and think obsessively over what could have caused it. For instance, maybe you pick up on a change in a friend’s energy toward you and immediately think it’s because of something you did.
You enter a cycle of examining all the things you may have done to spark this change. Yet in reality, your friend may be stressed because they had an expensive car repair pop up or there’s a lot going on at work—all things that aren’t because of you.
Repetition of ritual behaviors
This ties into obsessive thoughts a little bit. When we’re experiencing anxiety, we often feel a lack of control. Thus, we may repeat certain behaviors that make us feel more in control.
This could be checking the locks in your house multiple times, checking to see if you unplugged your hair straightener multiple times, etc.
Another common behavior is body checking. This means analyzing how you look in mirrors or reflective windows on a building you walk by. Anxiety makes you think everyone is scrutinizing you all the time, so you have to present yourself as flawlessly as possible to avoid people making judgements about you. In reality, most people are caught up in their own day-to-day and are not scrutinizing you at all.
This is a common anxiety symptom across the board. However, the way it’s perceived can differ. For instance, women today are still often in charge of a plethora of household duties, especially if children are in the picture.
Because anxiety takes up so much energy on its own, we’re left with little energy to do things like cook dinner from scratch, do laundry, etc. Anxiety is also notorious for keeping us up at night. Anxious thoughts can prevent us from settling down and finding restful sleep. A lack of sleep further depletes energy reserves so you feel like you’re constantly exhausted no matter what. In some cases, this can even develop into insomnia.
Anxiety lowers our stress tolerance. When we live in a state of stress all the time, it eventually manifests physically. For many women, this involves frequent headaches. Most often, these tend to be tension headaches.
Part of anxiety involves our fight-or-flight response, which is designed to keep us safe from immediate danger. However, we aren’t meant to be in this state all the time. With anxiety, we experience this survival response to things that can’t actually cause us physical harm.
Our body releases a hormone called cortisol. This “stress hormone” suppresses other bodily functions and raises our heart rate so we can prepare to flee from danger. This hormone is known to trigger headaches as it reacts with a person’s nervous system.
Anxiety is a very real and debilitating experience. The good news is, you can take back control. Reach out today to learn how we can work together in anxiety therapy and develop healthy coping skills so you can live a more peaceful life.