The answer could be yes!
Menopause can be one of the reasons for anxiety, depression and some of the mental health issues women experience. The low levels of oestrogen and progesterone hormones not only result in menopause but can also lead to many health conditions. Menopause can make many women anxious and it may also aggravate the situation if you have been a patient of anxiety or depression in the past.
Even though women know that menopause is a natural progression, they may not be aware that the menopausal symptoms may last up to many years and interrupt their normal life. And the postmenopausal stage lasts for the remaining years of your life after you hit menopause. This may lead to several changes in your life.
Let us understand how menopause and anxiety are related and know if menopause is making you anxious.
Is Menopause Making Me More Anxious?
The menopausal transition, also known as perimenopause, begins when you are in your 40s. You start noticing changes in your periods – lighter or heavier or frequent. Along with this, you also notice a range of physical, psychological and mental changes.
Menopause and its impact on women:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss or thinning
- Sudden mood swings
- Mental fog
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep disturbances
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of interest in sex and many other perimenopause symptoms.
Some women may also experience restless nights, anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
Studies have shown that the perimenopausal stage may last for 4 years on average and the severity of the menopause symptoms may vary from women to women.
When the ovaries stop producing oestrogen and progesterone and your periods cease, you are in your menopause phase. However, this 1 year can be very long and some of you may go through:
- Severe hot flashes and night sweats
- Sleep disorders
- Restless nights
- Vaginal dryness
- Mental fog
- Memory problems
- Panic attack (in some cases)
- Frequent urinary infections
- Urine leakage (urinary incontinence)
- Weight gain
- Loss of breast fullness and other menopause symptoms
Once you reach menopause, the rest of the years of your life are post-menopausal. In the post-menopause stage, you may not have intense hot flashes and night sweats, but the low levels of hormones can impact your bone and vaginal health.
Menopausal Anxiety – What Is the Link?
Several studies have indicated that women are two times more likely to experience anxiety than men would experience even in normal conditions.
And menopause is a life-transforming phase.
The hormonal imbalances may cause an emotional disturbance, sleep problems, concentration issues and other menopause symptoms. Low oestrogen, progesterone and other hormones worsen your existing (or past) anxiety or play a role in the development of anxiety.
Some of the symptoms of anxiety include:
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle tension
- Shortness of breath
- Panic Attacks
- Chronic sweating
Menopause and Anxiety – What Are the Treatments?
Treatments for anxiety related to menopause could include hormone therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), mood enhancer, antidepressant and some psychotherapy.CBT for anxiety:
CBT is a commonly used treatment for anxiety. In this therapy, our cognitive (rational) and behavioural patterns are addressed to treat anxiety disorders.
CBT focuses on the negative patterns and misrepresentations we may have while looking at ourselves and at the world. The therapy works on two main components:
- Cognitive therapy – this therapy examines how your negative thoughts and perceptions add to anxiety.
- Behaviour therapy – this therapy studies how you react and conduct yourself in anxiety triggering situations.
The main principle of CBT is that our thoughts trigger anxiety and not external events. So, the next time a question pops in your mind “Is menopause making me anxious ?”, you know CBT is the answer to modify your behaviour and reduce anxiety and menopause symptoms.Hormone replacement therapy:
In this therapy, individuals are given hormones to restore depleting levels. Hormones in normal levels maintain and improve our brain function, emotions and overall wellbeing. The hormones are administered in the form of pills, patches, creams and gels to reduce hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sexual problems, anxiety and depression in menopausal women.Antidepressants for anxiety and depression:
Your doctor may recommend Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) in smaller doses to treat anxiety and depression related to menopause. These medications are prescribed based on your case and health condition. So, do not take it on your own.
Tips to Manage Menopause-related Anxiety
- Cut down the consumption of caffeine. Studies show that caffeine can aggravate menopause symptoms.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco. These may worsen the symptoms.
- Eat healthy carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains (minimal processed), beans and legumes more to get more energy. These healthy carbohydrates make you feel good and stabilise your mood.
- Beat the stress with regular exercise. Studies show that exercise is a great stress reliever and body relaxer.
- Practice relaxing techniques, breathing rhythm and meditation to improve your mood and rational clarity.
- Get a good night’s sleep to relax.
- Mind your thoughts and try to focus only on positives. Your anxiety and depression worsen with negatives thoughts and perceptions.
If you still think menopause is making you anxious, consult with your doctor immediately. Also, take the help of your spouse, family and friends to come out of anxiety. Emotional instability can be a result of numerous things including menopause, negative thoughts and attitude towards life. Do not sleep on the problem. Take care of the situation by taking care of your thoughts.
Eat a nutritious diet, be physically active, develop a hobby and try to be happy to beat the blues. If ever you again think “Is menopause making me more anxious”, you know how to deal with the problem.