“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Anxiety Symptoms In Women

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: August 11, 2019


anxiety symptoms in women

Anxiety can affect all age groups and genders. While anxiety symptoms are similar for all people, there are some important gender differences to consider. This “Anxiety Symptoms In Women” article explains these differences and how you can use this information to reduce their impact.

Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety can create many physiological, psychological, and emotional symptoms including:

To name a few. For a comprehensive list of anxiety symptoms, visit our Anxiety Disorders Symptoms and Signs article.


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Anxiety Symptoms In Women

The majority of anxiety symptoms in men and women are similar, but there are some anxiety symptom differences.[1][2]

For instance, anxiety activates the body’s fight or flight response (also known as the stress response). The stress response causes the body to secrete stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat – to either fight or flee.[3][4]

Since the stress response is an important part of the human survival mechanism, it affects all humans the same way. Visit our “Stress Response” article for all of the changes the stress response brings about.

Stress hormones affect other hormones. Consequently, women have a higher likelihood of being affected due to the hormonal changes caused by the menstruation cycle.

It’s common for women to experience an increase in anxiety symptoms around their monthly cycle. Many women experience an increase in the number, frequency, and severity of anxiety symptoms just before, during, and shortly after their monthly cycle.

Women can also experience an increase in symptoms due to the biological changes of pregnancy, miscarriage, child birth, postpartum recovery, and menopause.

Women are also different than men neurologically,[5] and therefore, tend to be more emotionally-centered than men. This difference can make their anxiety symptoms seem more numerous and daunting because of how hormones affect emotions and how women are more emotionally-centered.

There are also behavioral differences,[5][6] such as women are more emotionally expressive than men and share their experiences with others more than men. When under stress, women tend to reach out to others for support, which can ease the burden of stress. For many women, sharing their experiences with anxiety and how they feel is therapeutic whereas sharing is stressful for many men.

Moreover, women also experience anxiety over different things than men. For instance, women have a tendency to be anxious about relationships whereas men are less likely. Women are more concerned about their appearance and how they interact with other women than are men. There are numerous differences between the things women and men concern themselves about.

Also, women secrete higher levels of oxytocin than men.[7] Oxytocin helps to reduce the adverse effects of stress hormones.

As for the number of women and men who suffer with anxiety disorder, research has found anxiety disorder is more prevalent in women – almost twice as many women experience anxiety disorder than men.[8]

However, our experience working with anxiety disorder sufferers over the last 17 years has shown the difference between men and women with anxiety disorder is less than that (59 percent of women versus 41 percent of men).

A reason for this difference is that men generally don’t talk about their anxiety issues or come forward with them as often as women. Part of the subculture of men is to keep things inside and manage on their own whereas women are more open to talking about their struggle with anxiety disorder.

Overall, even though anxiety can produce similar symptoms for women and men, there are some subtle differences between women and men.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


Additional Resources:


Return to Anxiety Disorders Signs and Symptoms section.


REFERENCES:

1. Horst, J.P., et al. "Relevance of Stress and Female Sex Hormones for Emotion and Cognition." Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, 24, Nov. 2012.

2. Roney, James R., et al. "Elevated Psychological Stress Predicts Reduced Estradiol Concentrations in Young Women." Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, Mar. 2015.

3. Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.

4. Harvard Health Publishing. “Understanding the Stress Response.” Harvard Health, May 2018.

5. Goldman, Bruce. "Two Minds: The cognitive differences between men and women." Stanford Medicine, spring 2017.

6. Ngun, Tuck, et al. "The Genetics of Sex Differences in Brain and Behavior." Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, Apr. 2011.

7. Gao, Shan, et al. "Oxytocin, the peptide that bonds the sexes also divides them." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 5 July 2016.

8. McLean, Carmen, et al. "Gender Differences in Anxiety Disorders: Prevalence, Course of Illness, Comorbidity and Burden of Illness." Journal of Psychiatric Research, Aug. 2011.