Women Are More Prone to Anxiety
Anxiety has become a leading mental health problem on a global scale. The National Institute of Mental Health expects that almost a third of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. There is a greater prevalence of anxiety disorders among women than men. In fact, women are twice as likely to experience anxiety than men.
What is Anxiety?
According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is defined by persistent, excessive worries that remain present even in the absence of stressors. Anxiety is both a mental and physical state. The overwhelming negative thoughts that are central to anxiety can increase physical arousal, creating jitteriness and muscle tension.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
The most common types of anxiety are as follows:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
Is the most common type of anxiety related disorder. Those with GAD present symptoms such as excessive worrying occurring most days over at least six months.
Another predominant anxiety disorder includes panic disorder, which is when the individual feels a sudden attack of anxiety often marked by physical responses such as sweating, dizziness, and gasping for air.
Other anxiety disorders include social anxiety, which is when one may fear social situations, anxiety from specific phobias (i.e., fear of flying), and anxiety related to the menstrual cycle.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
While there is no direct cause for anxiety, the natural tendency for humans to fixate on the future especially in a world of uncertainty, can understandably be anxiety provoking.
Anxiety is both externally created, and triggered by real world events (i.e., relationship conflicts, disturbing news, etc.).
Anxiety can often be produced internally through an individual’s perception of reality.
While anyone is susceptible to anxiety, some may be more predisposed than others. An individual’s genes may determine one’s predisposition to anxiety. Those who have also experienced trauma earlier in life can be more susceptible to anxiety disorders and may overreact to threatening situations.
What is the Treatment for Anxiety?
Treatment for anxiety and anxiety related disorders can involve incorporating healthy coping skills into one’s daily routine or seeking out support through counseling.
Practicing healthy coping techniques, including daily physical activity such as yoga and walking, can be helpful in managing anxiety. Also, finding ways to calm the mind in practices like mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing are all great tools to reduce the overwhelming thoughts that precede anxiety.
When anxiety becomes difficult to manage alone, counseling can be a great resource. Counselors may use techniques such as a cognitive behavioral therapy to help individuals manage their thoughts and reframe their way of thinking.
Medication, such as antidepressants, can also be an additional treatment to aide in reducing anxiety. Speaking with a doctor or psychiatrist to discuss treatment may be helpful.
Frequently Ask Questions
Stress and anxiety present similarly and are both emotional responses that can feel overwhelming.
- Stress is typically a response to an external trigger, which can be short term, such as deadlines, or long term, such as illnesses.
- Anxiety is based around excessive thoughts and fixations. Both anxiety and stress can be difficult to manage and have overlapping symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
Anxiety is a natural response to stress and can even be helpful in fight or flight situations. Small amounts of anxiety can also be beneficial for productivity. Anxiety can provide an adrenaline rush, which is sometimes necessary for life’s pressures, such as job interviews and performances. However, anxiety is harmful when it becomes an automatic response to small stressors or the absence of stressors.
Learning to manage anxiety takes time and practice. Coping can involve acceptance of what is out of one’s control and taking charge of what is in one’s control. Accepting thoughts and moving past them is a helpful tool to manage anxiety. Journaling may be a helpful tool to help process and work through negative thoughts. In addition to managing thoughts, incorporating a healthy and consistent routine, including staying physically active, prioritizing sleep, and eating healthy foods can lessen the preoccupation of negative thoughts.
The development of anxiety in women could be related to biological as well as adverse life experiences. Hormonal fluctuations that women experience during puberty, the menstrual cycle, and menopause could be contributing factors. However, not all women will develop anxiety disorders in response to these fluctuations. It is important to consider other biological contributors and environmental experiences. Women may be more likely than men to experience stressors contributing to anxiety disorders. For example, childhood sexual abuse occurs twice as often to girls as to boys and, in adulthood, women may experience sexual assault at 10 times the rate of men.
Stress is a common trigger for anxiety. As such, it is important to notice early signs of stress to prevent the development of anxiety. Stress is the body’s response to an external threat or demand, whereas anxiety a feeling of worry or fear that can occur in the presence of stress, as well as without any stressors or triggers.
The information on this page, or elsewhere on this site, is not intended to take the place of diagnosis, treatment or informed advice from a qualified mental health professional. You should not take or avoid any action without consultation with the latter.
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American Psychological Association. (2019, October 28). What’s the difference between stress and anxiety? https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/anxiety-difference
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