Symptoms of Anxiety in Women

Angela Sheddan

Medically reviewed by Angela Sheddan, DNP, FNP-BC

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 11/5/2021

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.

A Download on Anxiety Disorders

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. 

  • Social Anxiety Disorder: This has to do with feeling incredibly overwhelmed in social situations. 

Anxiety Symptoms in Women

As we mentioned above, anxiety can lead to both physical and psychological symptoms. Learn more about them. 

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

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

  • Heart palpitations

  • Sweating, including sweaty or cold hands

  • Nausea 

  • Muscle tension

  • Shortness of breath

  • Numbness

  • Chest pain

  • Choking sensation

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Psychological Symptoms of Anxiety

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

  • Nightmares

  • Feelings of panic and excessive worry

  • Flashbacks to traumatic events

  • An inability to stay calm

  • Trouble sleeping

Treating Anxiety

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. 

Get Your Sweat On

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.

Find Your Om

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.

Talk It Out

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. 

A mental health provider 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.

Consider Medication

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)

  • Beta Blockers

  • Benzodiazepines

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Anxiety in Women 

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. 

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.

14 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad
  2. What are the five types of anxiety disorders? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/what-are-the-five-major-types-of-anxiety-disorders/index.html
  3. Anxiety Disorders. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9536-anxiety-disorders#symptoms-and-causes
  4. Benefits of Exercise. Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html
  5. Anderson, E., Shivakumar, G. (2013). Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety. Frontiers in Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632802/
  6. Zeidan, F., Martucci, K., Kraft, R., et al. (2013, May 21). Neural correlates of mindfulness meditation-related anxiety relief. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 751-759. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/scan/article/9/6/751/1664700
  7. Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E., et al. (2014). Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1809754
  8. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral
  9. What is exposure behavior? American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/exposure-therapy
  10. Dialectical Behavior Therapy. University of Washington. Retrieved from https://depts.washington.edu/uwbrtc/about-us/dialectical-behavior-therapy/
  11. Markowitz, J., Weissman, M., (2004, October). Interpersonal psychotherapy: principles and applications. World Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1414693/
  12. Shedler, J. The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-65-2-98.pdf
  13. Anxiety Disorders. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/
  14. Facts and Statistics. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
What’s next?

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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