A lot of women I know have suffered from anxiety issues, even those who I thought were cool, calm and collected. Anxiety can come and go or it can be an ongoing underlying problem. I have had bouts of anxiety myself and have had the odd panic attack when I am particularly stressed or upset. Anxiety can be caused by many different reasons but some of the most common are family problems, relationships, not achieving expectations, body image and conflicting demands of work and motherhood. So why does it seem to be so prevalent in women? Are we biologically wired to worry and is it something that we can control? According to the National Institute of Mental Health women are 60% more likely than men to suffer anxiety problems over their lifetime. Although there is a distinct difference between anxiety and fear.
Anxiety is a sustained and continuous awareness or concern and fear is an intense and immediate reaction. It has been proven that controlling fear is affected by oestrogen levels, those at the stage in their menstrual cycle where their oestrogen levels are higher found they could control their fear better than those who were at a stage in their cycle when their oestrogen levels were lower. So is this the reason women are more susceptible to anxiety issues? Because of oestrogen levels? If so, then women who are on birth control pills or have recently given birth are going to be much more susceptible seeing as their levels of oestrogen are not regular. In fact, women on birth control pills react in a similar way to women with low oestrogen and so they may struggle to control or extinguish their fear. Women who have recently given birth have highly irregular hormone levels, including low oestrogen levels which is why many new mothers suffer mood swings and anxiety disorders such as post-natal depression. Although many cases of anxiety may need professional help from your doctor there are little things you can try to control your feelings and stop you from becoming too overwhelmed.
Here are some that I have tried in the past which have worked for me. Take a walk, breathe deeply through your nose, be aware when you have destructive thought patterns and actively try to change them, talk to your friends about it, reduce your caffeine intake and drink herbal teas before bed. Some of these might not work for you but if you find something different that does then use it. Try not to let it overwhelm you and your life. Easier said than done I know but if you feel it is, let someone know, chances are they have similar feelings too.