Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Crespi Lab Effects of stress and anxiety on women’s health

Effects of stress and anxiety on women’s health


Stress is your body’s response to the daily events that occur in your life. Stress can be a motivator and a positive force in our lives. But experiencing chronic stress in a variety of forms can influence mental and physiological function via actions of your neuroendocrine stress system (also known as the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis).

Health problems that women can experience due to stress over a long period include:

  • Depression and anxiety. Women have higher rates of these conditions and other psychological disorders including panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder than men.
  • Heart problems. Stress increases blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Headaches and migraines. Tension headaches are more common in women than men.
  • Obesity or anorexia. Women are more prone to stress-related weight gain or loss than men.
  • Bowel problems. Stress can lead to such bowel problems as irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Pregnancy issues. Women with higher stress levels have a more difficult time becoming pregnant than women with lower stress levels.
  • Menstrual problems. Premenstrual syndrome is more severe with increasing stress levels.
  • Substance use. Unchecked stress, anxiety, and depression could lead to excessive use of alcohol, cannabis, or other substances to modulate stress.