Anxiety in Women: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

Anxiety is a mental health disorder that involves bodily sensations that affect us not only physically but can also have a psychological effect. Often what accompanies the physical sensations are feelings of worry, fear, and nervousness. When you experience feelings of anxiety you may become overwhelmed by what you are experiencing. Your brain then tries to bring you back to a resting state. In some cases, your brain is unable to deregulate itself meaning that these feelings of anxiety become more frequent and disruptive to your nervous system. Once you are in a heightened anxious state it can be difficult to calm yourself down. When you do not possess healthy coping skills, or when this seems to have become a reoccurring behavioural process, this is often a sign that you are dealing with an anxiety disorder.

Anyone can experience anxiety in their lifetime. However, it can affect women more than men, and there are many factors physically, socially, and emotionally that can affect how women perceive their environment which can intensify anxiety symptoms in women.

Understanding Anxiety in Women

Anxiety in women can be experienced and expressed in a different way to men. Women can have more ways of allowing their feelings and emotions to be expressed but there can also be pressure on women to manage their own expectations and the expectations of others. There can be a societal expectation that women should be the care givers and look after the needs of their family and wider social group. However, if this idea becomes internalised this allows anxiety to grow and extend beyond the individual. This can be experienced like a sense of pressure that one person should be able to manage everything. Not being able to live up to this expectation can seem like a failure to the individual. This pressure of expectation may cause a woman to repress her feelings and hide her reactions in order to not come across as ‘difficult’. By not allowing yourself to understand or express your emotions can then give rise to feelings of anxiety.

Sometimes signs of anxiety in women can be quite subtle, and other times coping mechanisms can be established to mask anxiety symptoms. Coping mechanisms can become relied upon to help you function in day-to-day situations. However, in the long term they may become an avoidant reaction to what you are actually feeling. There can be many causes of anxiety for women such as a family history of anxiety, health difficulties or traumatic childhood experiences. While these causes can be seen as general indicators for anxiety there are also other factors that specifically relate to the experience of being a woman.

Types of Anxiety Unique to Women

As a woman there are many hormonal changes that you may experience across your lifetime, some examples would be from:

  • Puberty
  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Menopause

Each of these life stages are transitional periods that bring with them a lot of change both physically and psychically. Having to adapt to these changes while navigating your daily life can be overwhelming, and can bring about symptoms of depression and anxiety in women. Some women may feel that when they are experiencing hormonal changes. They may believe that they should be able to deal with their symptoms by themselves, but this can mean that they do not reach out for help. These are universal experiences as a woman, but they can also create an ideal image of being the woman who can do everything, which puts an unrealistic expectation upon yourself. As a result woman may become quite anxious, or restrictive behaviours may emerge, such as being overly preoccupied with their weight, having to keep order and cleanliness in the home, or working overtime in their job to show they are dedicated.

The role of women in society is one that has been changing in modern times. There are still old ideals and stereotypes that exist that many women feel that they are expected to live up to, either consciously or sub-consciously. By understanding the nature, demands and forms of these stereotypes and ideals, women can begin to change the relationship they have with themselves and society. This can help women to understand their subjective position against societal ideals, and lower the anxiety that is generated through these.

Ways to Overcome Anxiety

Anxiety is experienced both physically and mentally. There are many ways to try and manage anxious feelings when they emerge. If you were to look at things physically, some ways to manage your symptoms may be with exercise, a healthy sleep routine, meditation, and eating well. By having a routine and healthy structure it can allow you to dedicate your energy into relaxing your body and mind instead of being in a consistent state of tension. If you were to look at anxiety as part of your mental health, you may want to begin working with a therapist. There are many kinds of therapy that work with managing the symptoms of anxiety, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy looks at managing the relationship between your thoughts, behaviours and emotions to try and build healthy coping mechanisms. Traditional talk therapy approaches such as Counselling and Psychotherapy help you to understand your subjectivity and recognise patterns of behaviour that may be affecting how you think in the present. Therapy allows you a space to speak objectively and can help you to recognise what your anxiety may be trying to tell you. By allowing yourself the space to speak about your anxiety, therapy helps you to bring a sense of yourself into your life, to begin to work through what has been driving these feelings, and also to understand about how you can live your life in accordance with what you want.

If therapy is an option that you would like to pursue, please browse the Mind and Body Works website to read about the team of therapists we have working with us, both in our centres and online. There are clear descriptions of each form of therapy that is provided, and of the relevant fees. We have a profile and biography for each therapist to help make your choice of therapist easier for you. Alternatively, you can contact us on 01 6771021 or email us at and our administration team can help offer you some guidance.

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