Women and Anxiety

According to Olivia Remes PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge..

“women are almost twice as likely to suffer from anxiety as men. People with anxiety are more likely to miss days from work and are less productive. Young people with anxiety are also less likely to enter school and complete it….”

“Women faced with life stressors are more likely to ruminate about them, which can increase their anxiety, while men engage more in active, problem-focused coping. Other studies suggest that women are more likely to experience physical and mental abuse than men, and abuse has been linked to the development of anxiety disorders. Child abuse has been associated with changes in brain chemistry and structure, and according to previous research, women who have experienced sexual abuse may have abnormal blood flow in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in emotion processing.”

That’s a lot to process, isn’t it? So much of it is historical cultural conditioning. It’s quite similar with ADHD and Depression also. Women get overwhelmed and distracted and tend to suffer in silence.

So now the question is, what do we do? What do we as women do to deal with anxiety?

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Start with being really lovingly and gently honest with yourself about whether or not you need help managing your Anxiety.
  2. Recognize that if there is a problem, there is also a solution.
  3. Love yourself enough to get help—break it down. What do you really need?
  4. Anxiety is an emotional issue that affects every aspect of your life. It is about feelings, not logic and rationale. Be aware that trying to “talk yourself out of it” is a shame-based idea that simply doesn’t work.
  5. If you suffered trauma as a child, it is completely natural that you would be anxious as an adult. Stop beating yourself up.
  6. Look into ways of grounding yourself in your body and getting out of your head. Walking, Yoga and Tai Chi, are some examples of gently connecting with your body. Running will actually continue to engage your “fight or flight” responses because you are running and your heart rate is increased. I have first-hand experience with this with kids. We make sure our little guy stops when he’s had enough because physical activity can actually wind him up rather than calm him down. (Our son is recovering from childhood trauma , pre-adoption.)
  7. Meditation is essential for changing brain patterns caused by trauma and anxiety.

We, as women, no matter how tough and strong we are, need to recognize when we are in trouble— whether it’s a small thing or a big thing—and not feel guilty for needing help.

2 thoughts on “Women and Anxiety

  1. “Women faced with life stressors are more likely to ruminate about them…” I so completely agree with this statement. When I am stressed out my sleep pattern becomes disrupted. I wake up in the middle of the night and my brain just starts talking to me. All the things I have to do tomorrow; who I need to call; how I should write that letter; what I should have said or done in that situation; how a kid made me feel bad in third grade; that stupid novelty song from the 70’s randomly playing through my head. It never ends. When I’m not stressed I sleep like a baby.

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  2. Xanthe you bring up such a valid point. We as women are much more likely to sit with anxiety for years, thinking that it’s normal to have disrupted sleeping patterns or panic attacks. One of my goals in writing this article is to encourage women to break through that wall of shame and start talking about it. Emotional issues cannot be shaken off or resolved with logical rational thinking. We have to acknowledge what we’re feeling and what we’re facing and then take loving action. Thanks so much for your insight!

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