Anxiety can impact a person’s life in one way or another. An individual may experience a different series of symptoms from another person, and may differ in how they respond to their condition. However, everyone can agree that anxiety creates debilitating effects on an individual, increasing their risk for depression and, at worst, suicide. Anxiety impacts your way of life, reducing your productivity at work, school, and even at your own home. 

What Is Anxiety? How Serious Can It Be?

Anxiety is a common condition for millions of people the world over, and can range from mild to severe. It’s a natural response to stress. Anxiety is characterized by experiencing fear, apprehension, and restlessness for a situation that’s about to come. 

The most common type of anxiety is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is marked by extreme worry, fear, and stress regardless of what the situation is or what causes it. It can occur as a symptom of a more severe condition such as depression. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are two other common forms of anxiety.

The severity of anxiety symptoms can vary widely from person to person. Although most people can handle their daily routines with some level of comfort, some people find themselves experiencing chronic anxiety. There are many things that can cause anxiety, such as social, career, or academic events. People may be anxious because of their fear of failing a test, having a presentation at work, or meeting a new person. It’s important to note that anxiety symptoms don’t necessarily indicate that a person has a problem within themselves. Many times, anxiety is simply a response to a stressful situation, which could be caused by poor diet, lack of sleep, low levels of stress hormones, or a variety of other factors.

Looking At The Symptoms of Anxiety

You may have experienced a sense of fear or dread before taking an exam, meeting with a customer, or going on a job interview. When dealing with these feelings of apprehension, it’s important to remember that they’re normal for everyone. Some people might find themselves feeling agitated once in a while, especially during important events. 

Having anxiety attacks are common amongst those who have a pre-existing condition. The problem with these symptoms is that most people push these issues aside and feel embarrassed about them. Some individuals even choose to ignore their symptoms instead of dealing with them, but this can do more harm than good. 

Instead of living a life filled with anxiety, it’s important to work on overcoming the issue by identifying its causes, then finding the appropriate anxiety treatment at Alvarado Parkway Institute San Diego. Finding the right healthcare professionals will not only help you get your anxiety under control, but they’ll also be able to offer advice on how to prevent the symptoms from coming back. 

Unfortunately, the prevalence of anxiety in the population shows that women twice as likely to suffer from anxiety compared to men. Two of the biggest factors that account for this is the difference between men and women’s brain chemistry and hormonal fluctuations. Since women experience a whole distinct set of stages during their lifetime, reproductive events in particular, their hormonal surges are significant players in feeling disturbed, restless, and obsessed. 

Apart from these biological markers, men and women tend to encounter and respond to anxiety differently as well. A woman, when faced with a stressful situation, can have different coping strategies than a man. However, studies show that women are more prone to stress, therefore increasing their risk of experiencing anxiety. 

Moreover, when faced with a stressful situation, women are more likely to ruminate on their problems, a process where they continuously think about the same thoughts without immediately taking action. Because of this, women can be more susceptible to stress and anxiety, compared to men who tend to solve their problems through an active, problem-focused coping mechanism.

Impact Of Anxiety In Women’s Health

Occasionally, experiencing stress and anxiety is a good response to your surroundings, particularly when an event brings about a change or challenge. It reflects your alertness, emotion, and motivation to conquer this challenge. While it’s normal for every woman to encounter stress and anxiety in their life, women shouldn’t just let the situation pass by. Every time that an individual faces stress and anxiety, it creates a profound impact on their health and well-being. 

Long-term, chronic anxiety is a huge obstacle to overcome. This means you’ll have to deal with its consequences for the rest of your life unless you seek anxiety disorder treatment and recovery. But first, it’s paramount to identify, one by one, the various ways anxiety can impact women’s health. This article will discuss numerous aspects of women’s health that are affected by anxiety. 

Digestive Health

A body under distress doesn’t consider hunger and digestion as an immediate and essential process, which will discourage you from eating properly. Alternatively, it could also be the other way around where your primary coping mechanism is to eat non-stop, resulting in an abrupt weight gain. Whichever situation happens, they both disrupt the function of the digestive system and potentially bring about these consequences:

  • Increased stomach acidity
  • Spasms in the esophagus
  • Inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract 

Since stress and anxiety fuel weight loss or gain, this could further affect a woman’s stress levels. Women who become conscious of their weight gain or loss can feel less valued while looking at the mirror, which can increase their stress and anxiety more.

To reduce symptoms of anxiety, it’s important to motivate yourself in making changes to your lifestyle. Excellent nutrition and exercise can make you feel good about yourself and potentially ward off your anxiety. Also, consuming healthy foods will aid in your body’s fight against stress and anxiety, as well as its after-effects. 

Furthermore, drinking plenty of water on a daily basis helps keep you hydrated, as water aids in flushing toxins from the body. Women who are overweight may want to make a conscious effort to shed extra pounds and hydration is important to make this happen. Weight loss is a major contributing factor to constipation in women, so if a woman is attempting to lose weight, she will want to take steps to increase her healthy eating habits.

Anxiety and digestive wellness in women can be addressed with the proper digestive health. When a woman is able to control her anxiety, her body will naturally treat any symptoms that may arise. 

Reproductive Health

A woman’s reproductive system is unquestionably different from a man’s, and these anatomical differences are extremely important in body function and how anxiety attacks them. During a woman’s lifetime, her reproductive cycle encompasses the premenarche, reproductive, and menopausal stages. Whenever a woman in these stages encounter anxiety, here are the following ways on how their reproductive system reacts to it:

  • Premenarche and Puberty

Premenarche is an adolescent’s phase before her first menstruation cycle. Adolescents aren’t exempted from suffering from anxiety, but one of the most notable differences they have in experiencing anxiety compared to adults is that the former usually fail to recognize their own feelings. Therefore, support from family and friends is crucial during her development stages.

Also, the premenarche stage is where most girls reach their puberty. Their anxiety episodes will be a significant part of their life as they move forward, thereby affecting their social behavior, motivation, and rates of psychopathology. Stress and anxiety have a paramount impact in an adolescent’s production of hormones.

  • Menstruation and the Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) 

Regularly, a woman’s menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days. Because of stress and anxiety, one may experience a delay, irregular patterns, shorter or longer cycles, and a more painful menstrual experience. Although regular menstruation is already stressful enough, imagine what women have to go through if they experience both menstruation and anxiety. 

Before menstruation, 90% of women suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a condition where a woman experiences more sensitive health symptoms before undergoing menstruation, characterized by mood swings, irritability, cramps, bloating, sensitive and swollen breasts, and acne flare-ups, to name a few. 

  • Reproduction And Sexual Desire

Stress, anxiety, fatigue, and distractions can directly reduce a woman’s sexual desire and libido. This is because stress increases your cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which, in turn, inhibit your sex hormones such as gonadotropins, thus resulting in decreased motivation in engaging in physical contact and intercourse. 

  • Pregnancy

As much as possible, a pregnant woman shouldn’t be exposed to frequent anxiety as it can greatly affect their pregnancy, particularly the baby. Because of stress, it’s common for pregnant women to experience complications in their pregnancy and postpartum adjustment. 

In the early weeks of pregnancy, it’s possible to lose the fetus, and during the second to third trimester, maternal stress can cause birth weight decrease. The effects also include disturbance in cognitive development, hyperactivity disorder, and emotional problems. 

  • Menopause

Menopause and stress affect one another significantly. As women approach their menopausal years at 45 to 55 years old, their hormone levels will fluctuate rapidly, leading to sudden outbursts of distress and mood swings. Menopause can also be the stressor itself, and not just the effect of stress. 

Lastly, increased levels of stress hormones can potentially result in early menopause, even before reaching the age of 40. 

During a woman’s entire lifetime, experiencing extreme anxiety can also worsen a few reproductive disorders that they’ve already been diagnosed with. Therefore, it’s paramount to keep stress away from women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and herpes simplex virus, and seek immediate intervention, along with the treatment of their reproductive illness. 

Skin, Hair, And Nails

Stress and anxiety can greatly reflect on one’s external appearance, as brought about by its effects on mental, emotional, digestive, and other aspects of health. For example, suffering from stress and anxiety causes a woman to develop poor eating habits by consuming foods low on essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. 

Due to poor nutrition, the body will do its best to maximize and deliver the nutrients to essential body processes first. The integumentary system, which comprise the skin, hair, and nails, are much less important than other body systems, and they’ll receive less nutrients. 

Here are a few noticeable effects of anxiety reflecting on one’s integumentary system:

  • Acne breakouts
  • Dry, dull, and ageing skin
  • Dull and brittle nails
  • Ridged nails due to nail biting or other habits
  • Eyebags
  • Graying hair
  • Hair loss
  • Chapped, sore lips
  • Aggravates existing conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea

Moreover, women experiencing stress and anxiety are more likely to skip their self-care routine and pampering sessions, which takes a great toll in maintaining the health and beauty of their skin, hair, and nails. 

Mental And Emotional Health

Last but not least, the effects of anxiety on mental and emotional health should be of paramount concern. As mentioned earlier, women tend to ruminate during stressful situations, which can be extremely destructive if they continue to think excessively about negative thoughts. This will only result in overthinking without coming up with a solution to solve the situation. Since this experience has been stressful, they’ll develop dread and fear during similar situations in the future. 

Also, it has been highlighted previously that anxiety affects one’s mood, motivation, and will to do activities that they’re used to. For example, adolescents and young women will tend to lose interest and productivity in their academic or career-related activities, which decreases their performance in these settings. Even without doing more tasks in a day, women suffering from anxiety will find themselves always feeling lethargic and not in the mood for simple activities. 

Lastly, anxiety disorders negatively impact your relationships and connections with people, including your partner, family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers. One extremely relevant example is social withdrawal and isolation, which can lead to depression and suicide if the person fails to receive support from their loved ones. Other effects of anxiety include:

  • Being overly dependent
  • Indecisiveness and fear of rejection
  • Frequently angry and suspicious
  • Overthinking relationships 

Bottom Line

Throughout the years, stress and anxiety are two major health conditions that people experience without noticing them immediately. Unfortunately, many people still overlook their mental health today due to many reasons, one of which is being embarrassed and afraid of being judged because of their mental illness. Anxiety and depression are poisonous and it can easily devour you if you decide to neglect it and don’t seek immediate intervention. These different ways it can impact one’s health are just a few of what women go through because of stress and anxiety.