Coping With Menopause Anxiety Amelior | LIFE ROOTS

Coping With Menopause Anxiety

What is menopause-related anxiety?

Menopause is a natural process of ageing, and experiencing anxiety is common during menopause. Anxiety is an unpleasant symptom that can make you feel tense and agitated. Anxiety can hit you suddenly or sneak up on you slowly.

Over half of the women (aged 45-65 and transitioning through menopause) interviewed in a survey experienced mood change. Anxiety is a common symptom of menopause, so don’t worry if you are struggling to cope with anxiety, you are not alone! Anxiety can happen to anyone, even those who have never experienced any mental health difficulties before.


When does menopause-related anxiety happen?

Anxiety can happen at any stage of menopause. It can occur as early as during the perimenopause stage, before there are any changes in your period, and as late as during menopause. This change in mood can be so subtle that you might not even realise that it is related to menopause. This is why it is so important to be aware of this menopausal symptom as many women do not make the connection, thinking that they are just not coping as well as they used to with their daily lives.

Physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  1. Heart palpitations
    Feelings of having a fast-beating or pounding heart
  2. Tachypnoea or hyperventilation
    When you have fast breathing. They could be fast and shallow (tachypnoea) or rapid and deep (hyperventilation)
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Shaking or tremors
  5. Panic attacks
    These are severe episodes of anxiety, fear, and panic that occur suddenly, often without warning, and for no apparent cause
  6. Nausea
  7. Irritability
  8. Dizziness
  9. Reduced ability to focus and concentrate


What causes menopause-related anxiety?

A lot of factors are happening simultaneously during perimenopause and menopause, so it can be difficult to point out what is the specific cause of your anxiety. Many mood changes can happen due to the hormonal changes in your body. It is helpful to know that these changes are beyond your control, and it is not your fault or a sign that you are not doing well.

Anxiety, like depression, can occur as a result to a decrease in oestrogen levels. Studies have shown that oestrogen is linked to the levels of serotonin (the ‘happy hormone’) in the brain. There is also evidence showing how oestrogen levels are linked to cortisol levels (the ‘stress hormone’), and how cortisol levels rise when oestrogen levels drop. It is also likely that other hormones and chemical factors are also involved. This is also why some brains are more susceptive to the change in hormone levels than others. Women who experience postnatal depression can be more likely to suffer from menopause-related anxiety. It is important to know that women who are already experiencing a more severe form of anxiety disorders may find that their anxiety gets worse as they go through the menopause stage.

Coping With Menopause Anxiety Amelior | LIFE ROOTS

How to cope with menopause-related anxiety?

How everyone copes with anxiety is different. What works for someone else, might not work for you, and vice versa. Sometimes it takes a little bit of trial and error to figure out what works best for you.

It is crucial to take good care of yourself during this transitional period. Make sure that you are getting enough rest, exercise, and that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet. It is also good to give yourself enough headspace to complete tasks.

Here are some ways that you can cope with menopause-related anxiety:

  1. Lifestyle changes
    Exercising regularly can be extremely helpful for anxiety. It can help to increase your sense of wellbeing, self-worth, and body image. Exercising regularly can also help to reduce your levels of stress and anxiety and increase feelings of happiness. If you find yourself to be low in energy and unmotivated, you can try simple exercises such as short walks or even cycling. Some exercise is better than no exercise at all!

  2. Therapy
    Counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has shown to be an effective treatment for many women going through menopause by helping them to look into and better understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. CBT can help women to break the vicious cycle of hot flushes and anxiety, by changing problematic thought patterns. CBT can also help them to adjust some of their behaviours to better cope with menopausal symptoms.

  3. Make time for self-care
    We know how tough menopause can be. Looking after yourself, making time for the things you love, and simply relaxing can be pivotal. Getting enough sleep is good, but getting quality sleep is optimal. Deep sleep is a natural relaxer. Doing things that relaxes you such as listening to music or going for strolls through the park can have a dramatic impact on the anxiety that you are facing. Talking to your partner, friends, and family can also impact you significantly.

  4. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
    Many women turn to HRT. There are evidence indicating that HRT is better at improving your mood and anxiety than antidepressants if your mood changes are related to perimenopause and menopause. It may be worth a try, even for a short period of time, to see if it helps. However, it is strongly advisable to speak to your healthcare provider to determine if this option is suitable for you.


When does anxiety become a problem?

It is important to remember that although anxiety is a normal human response to stressors, it can become an issue when it turns into something that is too difficult to control. It is best to seek help in managing your anxiety if you find that your fears and stress is overwhelming you and getting in the way of daily tasks and responsibilities. Signs that you should seek professional help includes:

  1. Difficulties with work
  2. Difficulties with relationships
  3. Trouble sleeping
  4. Suicidal thoughts
  5. Negative feelings that last for more than two weeks
  6. Inability to focus or complete day to day tasks
  7. Severe mood swings
  8. Lack of support

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