Anxiety is normal. All women experience it to varying degrees and frequencies. While moderate levels of anxiety prepare us mentally and physically to face a perceived threat, when it becomes so overpowering that is causes us to be on a perpetual high-alert mode, it becomes a very real and extremely debilitating problem. Anxiety symptoms in women can be varied, and if you know the signs, you can prepare yourself for the onset of an anxiety attack, or be in a better position to cope with your anxiety disorder.
In many cases, an anxiety attack feels like an intense fear, brought on by some aspect of a particular situation or location. Some may feel this fear in an airport, whereas for others, it may be a classroom, an elevator, a mall, a park or even a friend’s house. Most anxiety symptoms in women reach their peak within 10 to 20 minutes, but some symptoms may continue for an hour or more before they subside.
Although an attack may feel dangerous, like precursors to death, anxiety attacks are largely harmless-at least to your physical well-being. You will not faint during an attack. Fainting is caused by a drop in blood pressure, whereas an anxiety attack causes a rise in blood pressure. And you won’t run out of air during an anxiety attack, even if you hyperventilate. You may feel short of breath, but you’ll still be able to breathe. The sensation of losing control is also a false alarm. You won’t lose control even if you feel like you are. And if you feel like you’re going to die, just try thinking about how many times you’ve felt like that in the past. And yet you’re here now, reading this. Very much alive. These are just the brain’s false alarms.
What makes anxiety particularly hard for doctors to diagnose is the fact that anxiety symptoms in women differ so much. If you can learn to recognize some of the more common signs of the onset of an anxiety attack, you can use the knowledge to help yourself or a loved one. Once you know the symptoms, you’ll be better equipped to overcome them.
If you can identify at least four of the following symptoms, your episode was a classic anxiety attack:
You felt an irrational fear, as if you were going crazy, losing control, or on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
You had a feeling of dread and impending doom.
You experienced feelings of detachment, unreality and depersonalization, or felt as if you were not ‘there,’ that it wasn’t your body panicking, or that you were simply watching things beyond your control.
Your hands, feet or face tingled or you felt the sensation of pins and needles in the extremities or all over the body.
You felt dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, or had an upset stomach.
You had difficulty breathing, gotten a dry mouth, or felt as if you couldn’t get enough air. You hyperventilated, drew short and shallow breaths that heightened your panic.
You experienced palpitations, a pounding heart, chest pain or discomfort. These symptoms are why panic attacks are often mistaken for heart attacks.
You felt physical discomfort and uneasiness due to trembling, shaking, sweating, chills or hot flashes.
This is not a comprehensive list by any means. Anxiety symptoms in women can manifest in many different ways.
It is important to note that some of the symptoms listed above can also indicate hyperthyroidism. If you are about to start a medical or self-help regimen, make sure you can rule out this condition.