Young women


Many worries when you are young are about being judged, how you look, how you can fit in and how you can fit everything in that you need to do - and still have a LIFE.  

  • “How do I look?”
  • “Will that zit go away?”
  • “I want to be different but I don’t want people to think I am weird.” 
  • “I don’t really want to drink but everyone else is.”
  • “I want to make the right career choices but I don’t know what I really want to do yet, and I am 25!”

Is this you?

LEARN Consider the different stories below, listen to a podcast or check out the video. 

THINK Then, to understand more about what causes worry you can explore the different social, psychological and physical things that can increase worry. In this section you will find questions to ask yourself about each cause to see if it affects you.

DO Once you have explored the causes of your worry then it is time to do something. Go to the ‘Toolkit’ to find a range of different tools to help yourself try and reduce worry.

View the causes of Worry for Young women

Do you relate to these?

We spend too much time wondering why we’re not good enough

"Mind, why can’t you leave me alone? Always bugging me and making me worry. I’d appreciate it if you’d stop."

I’m smooth and confident until someone speaks to me and then I’m like the village idiot ☹

from friends
from parents
from adults
from teachers
from lecturers
from family
from co-workers
from society
from the world
from myself

Everyone all the time: You worry too much.
Me: Oh my god, you’re right, now I have to worry about trying to stop worrying.

I think and worry way too much. I end up creating these negative scenarios in my head and in spite of myself I keep confusing it with reality. Ugh :/

Just tell me how to be different in a way that makes sense
The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Causes of worry for Young women

What happens

Some personalities are more prone to worrying - you might be a perfectionist and so worry when things aren’t done on time or to a high standard.

Questions to ask yourself

Is it in my make up to be a worrier?

How much do I like things to be perfect?

What happens

Unhelpful thinking can create a cycle of tension and unease. For example before giving a talk you think - “I am going to make a fool of myself”, and then you sense the tension in your body - then you think - “People will think I am hopeless”, and then the tension increases. This in turn causes more worry and the cycle continues.

Questions to ask yourself

What are my thoughts when I feel worried?

Are these thoughts distorted or faulty?

What is the evidence to support my thoughts?

What is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is this?

What happens

Sometimes you focus on all the things you can’t do and this can make you worried you are not good enough. You can worry people are constantly judging you for what you do, what you say, how you look and how you behave.

Questions to ask yourself

Do I worry what others think of me?

Do I mostly focus on the things I don’t do well?

How do I feel about all the things I can do well?

What happens

Having roles that give you meaning are important to your mental and emotional health. You might be a best friend, a daughter, a student, in a new career, a rower, a netball player, a dancer… there are many roles you may have in life. Sometimes these roles are given to you and at other times you choose your roles. If you feel good about your roles it is easier to not worry so much. 

Questions to ask yourself

What roles do I have?

Do I worry about any of the roles I have?

If so, what do I worry about?

What happens

When you focus on your appearance, all the little changes can add up to one big worry.  Acne, body shape changes, oily hair all come with being a young woman, but it is how you feel about them and how you picture your body that will impact on your worries.

Questions to ask yourself

How much do I worry about how my body looks?

How much am I worried about my weight?

What are the changes to my body that worry me?

What happens

If you have experienced maltreatment as a child or young woman, or violence in your close relationships this can cause you to be vulnerable to worry. Any kind of abuse such as emotional, mental or physical can cause you to worry about dangerous or risky situations in different ways than others who have not had these experiences. You may react more strongly to criticism, worry that others do not like or value you and that your thoughts or feelings are not important. 

Questions to ask yourself

Has maltreatment or violence caused me to be more vulnerable to worry?

Social causes →
What happens

Problems with your family can include lots of things. It might be that your parents are separated or divorced, or you have lost a parent, perhaps your parents are overprotective, or one parent lets you do whatever you want and the other parent is stricter. Perhaps you have just moved out of home and this is a time of adjustment for everyone! All of these things can be confusing and put you on edge making you worry more. 

Questions to ask yourself

Are there family problems which cause me to be stressed and worried?

Have there been changes to our family which I am worried about? If so, what are these changes?

What happens

Sometimes change is stressful. Even when you are young, bad things can happen such as serious illness or the death of someone you love. Difficult experiences can make you realise your world can change quickly and this can make you worry more. 

Questions to ask yourself

Have I experienced any stressful or difficult events recently?

What happens

Your family may have just moved or may be having financial problems. Perhaps one of your parents has lost their job. These things can make you feel uneasy.

Questions to ask yourself

Have there been any changes to my family’s finances that I know of?

How do I feel about these changes?

What happens

Friends can accept you for all that you are and sometimes you can feel left out or unlikeable. Changes to friendships can cause worry.

Questions to ask yourself

Do I feel accepted by my friends?

Who accepts or does not accept me?

What happens

Having people to talk to when you need to is one of the most important ways to feel supported and can help when you are feeling worried.

Questions to ask yourself

Do I have good friends, family or people I trust who can be there for me?

Who do I have that I can talk to if I need to?

Community causes →
What happens

The community in which you live is important to your mental health. Feeling safe, that there are places to go, ways to get there and things to do can help you to feel connected to your community and that you belong somewhere. 

Questions to ask yourself

How do I feel about the community where I live?

How safe do I feel in my community?

How connected and do I feel that I belong in my community?

What happens

There may be good times at school and there will also be times which are stressful, confusing, lonely and frustrating. However, if you don’t feel your school supports you or that you belong there, it can make it difficult to feel confident to battle through the tough times. 

Questions to ask yourself

Does my school make me feel supported even when I am having a bad day or I am challenged? In what ways?

What things about school make me feel like I can achieve or not achieve there?

What happens

Work can provide a source of worries such as

  • how much you feel you are in the right career or job
  • how safe and secure you feel in your job
  • how flexible your workplace is so you can meet other commitments
  • how demanding your job is of your time and energy
  • how much the politics and gossiping of a workplace affects you
Questions to ask yourself

Am I worried by my work?

Do I like my work?

Do I feel secure in my job?

How supported do I feel by my boss and work place?

Do I feel exhausted by my job?

What things about work make me feel like I can achieve or not achieve there?

Physical causes →
What happens

The hormonal changes that come with your development in your teenage years and as a young woman can make you more sensitive and irritable – sometimes beyond your control!

Questions to ask yourself

When is my period due?

What changes can I recognise in how I react at different times in my menstrual cycle?

How much do I worry about how regular my periods are?

What happens

If you have had an illness then you have probably learnt you can’t take your health for granted. This can cause you to worry about you, your body and your health.

Questions to ask yourself

Have I had any illnesses which have now caused me to worry more about my body and my health?

How much does this impact on my worrying?

What happens

Binge drinking and taking drugs can contribute to risky behaviours and then to shame and worry.

Questions to ask yourself

Do alcohol or drugs cause me to take more risks?

How worried am I about my actions when I drink too much or take drugs?

What happens

Lack of good quality sleep can make you tired and this affects your ability to think clearly.

Questions to ask yourself

How much sleep do I get per night?

Is it hard to go to sleep or do I wake in the night and find it hard to go back to sleep?

What happens

A diet with lots of sugary or fatty foods and little exercise can = more negative moods which can = more worry

Questions to ask yourself

What is my diet like?

Do I generally eat a range of healthy foods or do I rely on too many sugary or fatty foods?

How active am I?

Do I exercise at least 3-4 times per week for more than 30 minutes?

Created on 18/08/2013 | Updated on 24/10/2017
References for this page

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Jean Hailes is Australia’s leading and most trusted women’s health organisation. We believe in physical and emotional health and wellbeing in all its dimensions for all women in Australia throughout their lives.

We offer a range of free resources and easy to understand information on women’s health and wellbeing. Appointments at our specialist women’s health clinics can be made in person (East Melbourne and Clayton, VIC) or across Australia via our Telehealth consultation service.

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