Anxiety is an emotion that supports motivation and keeps the brain alert and focused in stressful or dangerous situations. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America states that women are twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety disorders such as anxiety attacks. For some women, anxiety proliferates and results in anxiety attacks, which cause sudden bouts of stress, fear and worry. Anxiety attacks happen suddenly and symptoms can mimic other acute health conditions, such as heart problems. Women who experience first-time symptoms of an anxiety attack, or those who have had previous attacks and experience new or changed symptoms, should consider medical care for evaluation of symptoms.
Anxiety attacks include sudden, overwhelming feelings of anxiety and worry, according to Helpguide.org. A woman may feel irrational fear, apprehension or dread, as if something horrible is going to happen. She may be irritable, depressed or have trouble concentrating, settling down or sleeping. During an anxiety attack, a woman may feel as if she is completely losing control and has no grasp on her emotions or the situation at hand. She may feel a strong need to escape from her environment during the attack and seek comfort in another area. Symptoms can be so severe that a woman may feel as if she is dying or will never recover from her feelings at that moment, notes FamilyDoctor.org.
Helpguide.org suggests that high levels of anxiety can trigger the brain's fight-or-flight response and cause uncomfortable physical symptoms. A woman may experience sudden, tense muscles or twitching. She may also have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea in reaction to intense worry. Symptoms can also include those similar to other emergent medical conditions: sweating, dizziness, chest pressure and trouble breathing. Anxiety can cause tensing of the chest wall muscles, causing chest discomfort and pressure and making it more difficult to breathe. Some women may have the sensation of choking or gagging during an anxiety attack as well.
Anxiety can increase the heart rate, causing the pulse to increase. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, heart palpitations can occur in which the heart can be felt beating hard against the chest wall. A woman may feel as if her heart skips a beat or misses a beat as well. She may experience additional symptoms along with palpitations, such as chest pressure or difficulty breathing. Heart palpitations generally subside as anxiety levels decrease and the heart rate begins to slow.