Learning to Live with an Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety in women occurs twice as often as anxiety in men. 40 million Americans currently suffer from an anxiety disorder, a statistic that has been skyrocketing over the last few decades, but why? In spite of the vast number of women diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder, anxiety in women is actually thought to be under-diagnosed in the United States.
One large reason for that is the average time between the onset of symptoms and when a woman finally gets a diagnosis is an astonishing 9 to 12 years according to Dr. Robert Leahy, a clinical professor of psychology and psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. He also adds that only a very small percentage of women with an anxiety disorder get adequate treatment.
Why are Anxiety Disorders in Women Under-diagnosed?
For starters, women are known to experience symptoms from an anxiety disorder at a much earlier age than men. So, if you are a woman who has felt this way since you were a child, this is all you know, and therefore you don’t think that there’s an issue. For you, this is the norm. And people don’t usually go to the doctor to get help when they’re convinced that there’s no problem to treat. In addition, when women finally do go to the doctor, misdiagnosis can be incredibly common.
Research from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia also suggests that women’s brains may be wired to be more sensitive to anxiety than men’s brains are, specifically that “the female brain may be more sensitive to stress hormones and less able to adapt to high levels of them.” This of course would provide a propensity toward developing an anxiety disorder.
Non-Pharmacological Ways to Alleviate Anxiety in Women
If the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is to be believed and women do have a higher genetic pre-disposition than men to develop an anxiety disorder, then finding healthy ways to cope with its symptoms become that much more important.
- Exercise- The link between exercise and an improved mental state is practically bulletproof. Several doctors even believe that exercise can work as well as medication at decreasing the symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
- Improved Diet- An Australian research team recently found that women who ate a whole-foods diet rich with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and fish were 32 percent less likely to experience anxiety than women who’s diet consisted of a high sugar intake and saturated fats.
- Mind-Body Therapies- Yoga, meditation and hypnotherapy have all been found effective in minimizing the symptoms of anxiety as have deep breathing exercises and massage.
Every single day women abuse drugs and alcohol in an attempt to neutralize their symptoms of anxiety. It begins as a quick fix to calm you down and can spiral into a full blown physical and psychological dependence very soon after. Because of this, the dual diagnosis of an anxiety disorder and substance abuse is incredibly common.
Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis treatment center for women located in beautiful South Florida. Their caring staff can help you discover the underlying issues of your substance abuse and teach you coping strategies and techniques to effectively minimize the toll your anxiety takes on your life.
Destination Hope is also a leader at finding non-addictive alternatives to medication treatment when necessary so you won’t wind up substituting one addiction with another. If there’s a woman in your life who may be abusing drugs or alcohol as a coping strategy for her immobilizing anxiety, please put them in contact with the treatment specialists at Destination Hope today. We are here to help, call us. We can help take the worry away.