Hormones and Anxiety: Essential Coping Skills for Women

While anxiety is increasingly common amongst both men and women, there are some key differences in how women experience anxiety that are important to understand. Women are under tremendous pressure to conform to societal expectations around their appearance and behavior, but fluctuations in hormones also play a key role in the severity of those symptoms.

Understanding the link between our mental state and the chemistry of our bodies is critical in learning to manage anxiety. Let’s explore that link—digging into the relationship between hormones and anxiety.

Fluctuations in Hormones

Sex hormones play a critical role in regulating mood and emotional state for both men and women—and fluctuations in those levels can exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety. Women’s hormone levels change throughout their menstrual cycle.

During menstruation, estrogen and progesterone levels drop precipitously—a change associated with feelings of sadness and frustration. In the follicular phase, estrogen levels climb again and peak during the ovulation. Finally, in the luteal phase, progesterone and estrogen levels spike and then drop precipitously before the cycle restarts with the menstrual phase.

These hormone changes cause what we commonly refer to as PMS, or PMMD, which anxiety is a common feature of. Accordingly, many women find that symptoms of anxiety peak shortly before they get their period—typified by troubled sleep patterns, excessive worrying, and intensified feelings of anxiety.

Coping with Anxiety

Self-Carea photo of a woman

Understanding that there is a physiological component to our mental state is an important first step in learning to manage our moods. Our bodies and minds exist in conversation—each actively influences the other. Sometimes, the best way to mitigate symptoms of anxiety is to focus on taking care of our bodies. That means engaging in proper self-care.

  • Light or moderate exercise
  • Increased sleep; limiting screens at bedtime.
  • Eating healthy snacks throughout the day.
  • Limit intake of alcohol & caffeine

Having a set routine is a good way to mitigate anxiety; but the steps above help by taking advantage of the link between your body and your mind, and limiting the severity of fluctuations in hormone levels.

Relaxation Techniques

Other methods for coping with anxiety also work, even when it’s triggered by changes in hormone levels. Some people benefit from relaxation techniques like breath therapy or mindfulness exercises, while those with severe anxiety may need something to snap them out of their worries.

During anxious moments, focus on processing input from your senses. The way textures feel on your skin, smells in the air, or background noises you can hear. Anxiety feeds on our worries about the future; these kinds of practices help by grounding you firmly in the present.

Other Methods for Coping with Anxiety

It’s difficult to calm a busy brain—we all have different methods that work for us. Some people like to stream familiar episodes of an old sitcom. Others find that journaling before bed helps them clear their minds. Anxiety feeds on uncertainty, so planning ahead and giving yourself more structure when your symptoms are severe can help you manage them.

Consider tracking your symptoms in a period tracking app; it may help you learn what to expect on a monthly basis. You can plan to keep those weeks lighter or stress free if you know your anxiety is likely to spike around that time.

Getting Support

Our bodies are complex, and navigating the interplay between our chemistry and our emotional state can be difficult to do on your own.

If you’re struggling to manage the symptoms of your anxiety and feel it might be related to your hormone levels, reach out today to schedule a consultation. We can create a plan to help you identify, understand, and work through your anxiety.