With numerous tasks to complete in our day-to-day lives, a few bouts of anxiety now and then are normal. However, chronic anxiety that interferes with daily life and well-being needs medical attention. Such is anxiety disorder, i.e., worrying and stressing about everyday life to an extent when you can no longer function productively. According to the National Institutes of Health, the symptoms occur frequently for a period of six months or more, even when the issues at hand are largely manageable. The symptoms of anxiety in women disturb their relationships, work performance, and overall well-being. As is the case for depression, women are more prone to anxiety disorder, and its prevalence is higher among them. The reasons include monthly changes in levels of the hormones, effects of pregnancy and post-partum, responsibilities as a caretaker, body image issues, menopause, and rigidity of gender roles, among others.

What does anxiety do to women?

Anxiety disorder in women affects their overall health. It impairs their mental, emotional, and physical health and manifests in the following ways:

  • A perpetual sense of doom
  • Nervousness and feeling on the edge
  • Restlessness and running thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating and short attention span
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression and self-isolation
  • Loss of libido
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Digestion issues
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating and/or trembling
  • Lack of deep sleep and extreme fatigue
  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Hot flashes
  • Unexplained muscle aches

Types of anxiety disorder

The following types of anxiety disorder commonly affect women—generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Let’s understand each in brief.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorders refers to uncontrollable worry and anxiety about regular activities or everyday issues related to family, money, health, and work.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder manifests itself as a cycle of obsessions and compulsions that a person finds difficult to break. A person follows a ritual (compulsion) to relieve themselves of the anxiety caused by an unwanted or persistent urge, intrusive thought, or an image (obsession).
  • Panic Disorder results in feeling terrified all of a sudden even when there is no real danger. A person experiences intense fear repeatedly and shows signs and symptoms discussed above.
  • Social Anxiety is extreme self-consciousness and crippling fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, social relations, and other day-to-day activities.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects people who have survived a scary, shocking and possibly life-threatening event. Flashbacks, nightmares, getting jolted awake because of fear, feelings of anger, and sadness are its signs.

How do you comfort a woman with anxiety?

The basics are the same for everyone. Comfort them, validate their feelings, and don’t be too intrusive. Learn to read the signs and try to be with them before their anxiety worsens. When they are calm and ready to listen, encourage them to consult a therapist. You may also advise them to practice self-awareness and record their emotions. Using Ginger-U or similar apps for women that help track emotions and psychological triggers and remind them to take medications on time may also contribute to their recovery.