Anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental health problems, and women are twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. c — millions of women suffer from anxiety. Learning more about the factors that contribute to anxiety in women can help you become more proactive about your mental health.
When facing high expectations at work, at home, and in other spheres of your life, it can be tough to juggle your many responsibilities. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on your body. By causing levels of stress hormones to remain persistently elevated, chronic stress can contribute to anxiety. If you find yourself worrying constantly, having trouble shutting off your mind, or feeling tension in your chest or shoulders, anxiety could be the culprit.
Feeling the “Go-Go-Go” Pressure of the World
The ubiquity of smartphones has changed the nature of our world. All of a sudden, there is pressure to be constantly available and constantly on the move. Do you feel like you spend much of the day rushing from one task to another, without ever actually having the time to get things done? Working late, feeling on edge about your job performance, and being constantly attached to your phone can be huge factors in fueling anxiety.
Women are hormonally different than men, and those differences make women more susceptible to anxiety. Anxiety is driven by the “fight or flight” response, which a physiological state of alertness that is designed to help you deal with threats. Because women have higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, their fight or flight response becomes activated more quickly and remains activated for longer. Over the long term, this contributes to anxiety.
Chemical Imbalances in the Brain
Imbalances in certain brain chemicals can also make you more predisposed to anxiety. The neurotransmitter serotonin helps your brain respond to stressful situations. Some scientific research has shown that women do not process serotonin as effectively as men. Furthermore, anxiety often has a genetic component. If your mom, dad, siblings, or other close relatives struggle with anxiety, you are at greater risk.
Physical Health Problems
Physical health and mental health are deeply intertwined. Many of my clients have chronic health conditions that contribute to anxiety. This can be a vicious cycle: people with chronic health problems often become hypervigilant and anxious about their symptoms. That anxiety can have a powerful effect on the body, contributing to pain, poor sleep, headaches, gastrointestinal distress, and other problems. Learning to maintain healthier lifestyle habits can alleviate some symptoms of anxiety.
As a counselor, I have helped many women overcome anxiety. Please give me a call at (312) 635-4662 or schedule an appointment online to learn more.
If you feel that your anxiety is interfering with your life, it may be time to get help.
Counseling is a fantastic way to talk through your anxiety and learn new coping strategies.
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