Anxiety is a natural, healthy response to certain realities of life — beginning a new job, meeting upcoming deadlines, passing examinations, and so on. But anxiety that interferes with your ability to function throughout your day and then sleep soundly through the night is definitely unhealthy. Anxiety can be a side effect of a more serious mood-destabilizing condition — depression.
The Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety can be associated with depression, or it can be a side effect of sleeplessness, excess fatigue, or unmanageable levels of stress. Many people suffering from anxiety describe it as overwhelming feelings of fear, nervousness, or the conviction that something dreadful is about to happen — though they often can't pinpoint what that something may be. When these feelings begin to interfere with normal, everyday functioning, they may signal an anxiety disorder. Some other symptoms of anxiety include:
An unshakable feeling of fear, dread, or worry that lasts for more than three days
Chest pain, racing heart, or fast breathing
Stomach pain, cramps, or diarrhea
Hand wringing, pacing, or other repetitive nervous movement
Two important skills for decreasing stress are setting priorities and delegating. Take a look at responsibilities and decide which ones are truly essential. Women tend to think they have to do everything, without considering what is essential and what is optional. Once you have set priorities, delegate. Doing these things at the first sign of stress can save you from a real meltdown later on.
Anxiety Can Lead to More Serious Conditions
Anxiety that goes unchecked can develop into anxiety disorders. These disorders include social phobias, such as agoraphobia (fear of going out in public), specific phobias (such as fear of dogs or spiders), or obsessive behaviors (such as obsessive hand washing or repeatedly checking door locks or appliance switches).
Women in perimenopause sometimes report the occurrence of panic attacks — overwhelming feelings of intense fear or impending doom that occur suddenly and repeatedly. Symptoms include shortness of breath, choking sensations, heart pounding or palpitations, and the sensation of losing control. If you have episodes that sound like this, talk to your health professional or a counselor. There are effective treatments for panic disorder.
Some of the symptoms of anxiety such as a feeling of doom, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, and clamminess could also be typically female symptoms of a heart attack. Don't minimize these events, but use them as a chance to rule out physical causes. Discuss them with your medical care provider, and ask whether you should have a cardiac evaluation.