Although anxiety disorders affect both men and women, there seems to be a slightly higher incidence in women. There are many causes of anxiety and some anxiety is normal. The stress of work, financial burdens and responsibilities of daily life can create an atmosphere of anxiety that develops into a downward spiral. It is important to recognize the symptoms of anxiety and learn how to manage them.
Many women live with chronic anxiety and may not even realize it. Several symptoms can be produced by anxiety and those symptoms can vary from person to person. The most common symptoms of anxiety include muscle tension, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, insomnia, loss of sex drive and depression. Symptoms of severe anxiety include irrational fear, feelings of dread, shortness of breath, nausea, irritability and elevated heart rate.
One of the main reasons for anxiety is unmanaged stress. Everyone experiences a certain level of stress in their lives but some manage it better than others. It is normal for stress levels to change according to the experiences and situations occurring in a person’s life. How one deals with such situations can play a determining role in whether she lives with chronic anxiety. There can also be biological causes of anxiety such as hormone imbalances. Anxiety can also be related to conditions such pregnancy, postpartum depression and menopause.
There are six main types of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worry and fear over the concerns of daily life. Symptoms typically include insomnia, restlessness, stomach upset and the inability to relax. Panic disorder is characterized by recurring panic attacks. Symptoms of panic attack may include heart palpitations (rapid heartbeat), hyperventilation (shortness of breath), feeling lightheaded, nausea, sweating and chest pain. Panic attacks are often accompanied by an intense feeling of fear or dread. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by repetitive and compulsory behavior. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder may wash their hands repeatedly or double-check to make sure the door is locked or the stove is turned off. Social anxiety disorder is also known as social phobia. People who suffer from social anxiety disorder are extremely self-conscious. They fear what people think of them and will avoid social situations. Those who suffer from social phobia may experience some of the same symptoms associated with panic attacks. Post-traumatic stress disorder results from a traumatic event. Sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder often have flashbacks, nightmares and tend to always be on guard. Phobias are unrealistic or exaggerated fears. People with a phobia try to avoid the object of their fear. They can experience similar symptoms as those with panic attacks.
There are several medications to treat the symptoms of anxiety. Most often antidepressants and tranquilizers such as Valium or Xanax are prescribed. Behavioral therapy can be effective in alleviating anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps one to identify and overcome negative thought patterns and behavior. Anxiety can be controlled through a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.
Learning how to manage stress can help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Lifestyle changes may be necessary to manage stress properly. Balance work, play and rest. Women often sacrifice their own well-being to be all and do all. If you’re not eating right and getting enough rest, you are bound to be stressed. Don’t take on added responsibilities if you’re already pushed to the limit. If you’re dealing with a lot of stress, you might want to join a support group. It really helps to talk and know that you’re not alone.
If you are pregnant or recently gave birth and are suffering from anxiety symptoms, consult your physician. Chronic anxiety isn’t good for you or your baby. Many women suffer from postpartum depression which can leave them feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. It is best to get help rather than try to do everything alone. It is also important to see a physician to determine the cause of anxiety. Your physician will be able to determine a proper course of treatment aimed at specific causes such as hormonal imbalances or other factors.