Reviewed by Angela Sheddan, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Anxiety is fun, said no one ever. If you are dealing with an anxiety disorder, there can be a large array of symptoms.
Some anxiety symptoms are physical, like a rapid heart rate or shallow breathing. But there are a variety of psychological signs, too. These include compulsive thoughts and intense worry.
Whether you know for sure you’ve got an anxiety disorder or are trying to determine if you might have one, it can be helpful to learn more about symptoms of anxiety for women.
Below, we’ll go over the various anxiety disorders and then dive into symptoms. Plus, we’ll detail how you can treat anxiety.
The truth is, no human escapes anxiety completely. In fact, it’s totally normal to feel anxiety during certain life events — like before you give a big work presentation or if you’re about to meet up with a blind date.
If your anxiety is contained to somewhat infrequent but appropriate times, there’s likely nothing to worry about.
However, if you notice you have anxiety more often, you may want to take note. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that if you’re having a hard time controlling your anxiety more often than not over a time frame of six months, you may have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
But GAD isn’t the only anxiety disorder — there are four other types of anxiety disorders:
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Washing your hands over and over, checking that you locked the door repeatedly… These behaviors could be OCD-related. This type of anxiety shows up as recurrent, unwanted thoughts and compulsive behavior.
Panic Disorder: If you deal with episodes of intense fear paired with physical symptoms like chest pain or heart palpitations, you may be dealing with panic disorder.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: If you’ve experienced a traumatic event (think a violent assault or an accident) you may develop this anxiety disorder. You can read our article to learn the difference between PTSD and anxiety.
Social Anxiety Disorder: This has to do with feeling incredibly overwhelmed in social situations.
As we mentioned above, anxiety can lead to both physical and psychological symptoms. Learn more about them.
You should know that physical symptoms of anxiety disorders vary from person to person. Some symptoms may come on as soon as you feel anxious, while others can build throughout anxious situations.
No matter how they present, symptoms of anxiety will likely affect your daily life.
Here are some physical symptoms of generalized anxiety:
Dry mouth, tightened throat
Sweating, including sweaty or cold hands
Shortness of breath
Along with physical effects, anxiety disorders can cause a number of mental symptoms to pop up.
Common psychological symptoms of anxiety include:
Obsessive thoughts you can’t control
Feelings of panic and excessive worry
Flashbacks to traumatic events
An inability to stay calm
People with anxiety may also experience imposter syndrome.
Now for some good news: Anxiety is treatable. There are actually a number of approaches you can take to get it under control. Check out some of the most effective ways to deal with anxiety.
Pilates, yoga, running, spin — all of these things can go a long way toward keeping you in shape.
Getting your heartrate up and breaking a sweat can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, keep blood sugar levels optimal and more.
It’s also been shown that committing to an exercise routine can help your mental health, too.
A 2013 review of studies found that exercise reduces levels of stress and anxiety, and leads to overall mood improvements.
One thing to note: The studies reviewed were all performed on animals — not humans.
Yet another reason to finally take up meditation: A 2014 study concluded that 20 minutes of mindful meditation can decrease anxiety by reducing overall brain activity.
What’s more, John Hopkins looked at 47 randomized clinical trials and found that meditation helps people cope with anxiety and stress.
If you’re unsure where to start, there are a variety of apps that can lead you through guided meditations.
Psychotherapy can help you deal with your anxiety and learn how to nip it in the bud as it pops up.
Depending on your symptoms, there are a number of types of therapy (both in person and online therapy) you can try for anxiety.
Online mental health services can assist you in figuring out which type you’d benefit most from. The different options include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A therapist will help you identify patterns that may be adding to your anxiety and help you come up with ways to break those habits.
Exposure therapy: This type of therapy has been shown to help with GAD. It involves having you confront the things you fear or that make you anxious.
Dialectical behavior therapy: A form of CBT, this was originally used for people with borderline personality disorder. It has also been found to help anxiety.
Interpersonal therapy: If your mother causes your anxiety, you’ll want to consider this type of therapy. It helps you overcome interpersonal issues that may be negatively impacting your mental health.
Psychodynamic therapy: The thinking here is that past issues contribute to current feelings, including anxiety. You can expect to do a lot of reflection.
If your anxiety is bad, a prescription anxiety medication could help manage it.
You’ll need to see a healthcare provider to see if you’re a good candidate for medication. If you are, some of the meds that may be considered for you include:
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Anxiety is common. In fact, there are 40 million American adults dealing with anxiety disorders. However, only 36.9 percent of those people receive treatment.
That means that millions of people, including women, are dealing with anxiety symptoms on a regular basis.
From generalized anxiety disorder to social anxiety disorder to post traumatic stress disorder, there are a number of diagnosable mental health disorders related to anxiety.
Anxiety disorders can present in a variety of ways, too. You may notice physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweaty palms. Psychological symptoms are common, too — think obsessive thoughts and nightmares.
Related post: Can Anxiety Make You Believe Things That Aren't True?
Whether you deal with intense anxiety or something that feels low grade, it can affect your physical health and quality of life.
Everyday situations can become challenging, and stressful events can become even more overwhelming.
This is no way to live and there are things you can do to manage your anxiety symptoms.
To find out if you have an anxiety disorder and for advice on how to deal with your symptoms, your best bet is to talk to a mental health professional.
They are best equipped to talk to people with anxiety disorders and can point you in the right treatment direction.
To learn about some lesser-known anxiety symptoms, read our blog on weird anxiety symptoms.
Dr. Angela Sheddan has been a Family Nurse Practitioner since 2005, practicing in community, urgent and retail health capacities. She has also worked in an operational capacity as an educator for clinical operations for retail clinics.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, her master’s from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. You can find Angela on LinkedIn for more information.
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