Anxiety is first and foremost a mental health issue, however, it is not impossible for symptoms of anxiety disorder to be caused by physical changes. One of the most common is the physical changes women encounter at menopause.
- Apprehension and dread
- Unable to relax
- Tenseness and jumpiness
- Startling easily
- Concentration difficulties
- Hyper vigilance
- Dizziness and sweating
- Heart palpitations
- Digestive problems
- Muscle tension and aches
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Hot flushes or chills
- Stomach/chest pain
Menopause and Anxiety
Hormonal changes can produce anxiety/panic attacks in women going through Perimenopause (the 2-10 year transitional stage before actual menopause, the average age of menopause being 51 years).
It is, however, important to understand that it will often be a combination of many factors rather than menopause alone and whilst it is fairly well known that menopause appears to increase the risk of panic attacks, the cause and effect remains unclear.
- Are hormones causing symptoms of anxiety disorder themselves?
- Are menopause symptoms causing stress, thereby causing anxiety as a result?
- Are symptoms of menopause causing women to focus too much on their health, possibly leading to anxiety?
Evidence indicates that women who have had symptoms of anxiety disorders before are more likely to experience them during menopause.
If you are prone to anxiety attacks during menopause they may not disappear after menopause.
Whether related to hormonal imbalance or not, addressing your anxiety is important.
Causes of Anxiety
Personality – predisposition
History of Psychological illness
Physical Causes of Anxiety
Lack of oxygen
Other menopausal symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats)
Anxiety can Develop Alongside Other Conditions:
Drug or alcohol abuse
Stress management and relaxation techniques
Sleep – improve your sleep strategies. Try keeping a pre-sleep notebook to document your thoughts and aid clearing your mind.
Support groups – meeting other people and discussing their coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety is a major step forward in dealing with your own anxiety.
Mindfulness – be aware of how your mind and body are reacting to your anxiety. Are you allowing your menopause symptoms to take over? Are you tensing your body or grinding your teeth?
Breathing – breath correctly. Take slow measured breaths.
Ensure you are hydrated
Increase your carbohydrate intake
Eat 5 small meals each day to avoid low blood sugar
Drink calming herbal tea
Increase intake of tryptophan – bananas, soy, nuts, oats, peanut butter and milk
Reduce your intake of caffeine – increases nervousness
Natural Menopause Relief
Phytoestrogenic herbs – used to treat mood swings
Non-estrogenic herbs – balancing both estrogen and progesterone
This can include therapy and/or drug intervention such as anti-depressants, mild sedatives, HRT.
There are Several Types of Anxiety Disorders:
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) – persistent state of exaggerated worry and fear lasting for at least 6 months.
Panic disorder – recurring acute episodes of sudden terror and overwhelming dread leading to a variety of physical and emotional symptoms.
Social Phobia – excessive worry and self consciousness about everyday social situations.
Post traumatic stress disorder – an anxiety disorder initiated by a life trauma. Unrelated to hormonal changes.
Obsessive compulsive disorder – irrational preoccupations including specific phobias such as agoraphobia. Rarely associated with menopause.
***In some cases psychological anxiety symptoms may require mental health intervention. Please consult your Healthcare Professional for advice and support.***
Menopause and Anxiety: What’s The Connection? (Aug 2011) Retrieved from http://www.healthywomen.org/content/blog-entry/menopause-and-anxiety-whats-connection
Miller, M. (Dec 2012) The Link Between Progesterone and Anxiety in Perimenopause. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health-blogs/hold-that-pause/the-link-between-progesterone-and-anxiety-in-perimenopause
Can Menopause Cause Anxiety Attacks. Retrieved from http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/causes/menopause
Depression, Mood Swings, Anxiety. Retrieved from http://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/depression-mood-swings-anxiety