by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
- What is generalized anxiety?
- How emotional experience contributes to anxiety
- Physical causes of anxiety
- Risk and benefits of anti-anxiety medications
- Natural anxiety relief
Many women operate in a state of low-grade anxiety that may erupt into episodes of panic attacks, phobias, or anxiety disorders in the face of increased stress or biological changes — like monthly periods, the birth of a child, or menopause. Over time, women who are chronically anxious may come to regard constant anxiety as “normal.” Most of my patients with generalized anxiety are so accustomed to living with it, that they don’t mention it until I ask, or until they enter perimenopause and their longstanding anxiety symptoms worsen.
Psychologists once viewed anxiety as a purely emotional problem. But over 30 years of research demonstrate that anxiety has real, physiological causes that must also be addressed to gain lasting relief. This is especially the case with anxiety related to hormonal imbalance — an amazingly common cause of anxiety in women of all ages. Other physiological causes can include adrenal imbalance, thyroid issues, and digestive imbalance.
This means you don’t just have to live with ever-present anxiety or medicate your symptoms when feeling overwhelmed by them. Once you understand both the physiological and the emotional causes of your anxiety, you’ll see there’s a lot you can do to resolve the problem.
What is anxiety?
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. Our ability to feel fear is like a built-in alarm system that brings the full weight of our mental and physical prowess to bear whenever we sense danger. This acute “fight or flight” response triggers a complex interplay between mind and body to deal with a perceived threat — whether real or imagined. What’s not natural (or healthy) is to remain on perpetual high-alert emotionally and physically when our lives are not at stake.