Menopause and anxiety
Feeling tense, jittery, on edge, irritable, or finding you’re worrying all the time? Maybe you’ve started to avoid social situations. Sound familiar? If it does, you may be dealing with menopause and anxiety. It can be difficult to manage and yet it’s a really common menopausal symptom with many treatment options available.
DEFINITION OF ANXIETY
Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion except when it impacts your day-to-day life, which can often happen with menopause and anxiety. Mild anxiety can feel vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety could seriously affect day-to-day living. It can alter how you process emotions and behaviour, while causing some more physical symptoms.
Anxiety can appear as feelings of tension, fear or worried thoughts. Physical symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, chills, heart palpitations, chronic sweating, nausea and vomiting, muscle tension, trembling, increased blood pressure or a rapid heartbeat.
People with anxiety disorders, such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or panic disorders, tend to have more intrusive recurring thoughts or concerns, and may avoid certain situations out of worry.
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HOW LIKELY IS ANXIETY?
- 1 in 4 experience menopause anxiety symptoms
- Anxiety or feelings of anxiousness can co-occur with depressive symptoms too. Read more about menopause and depression
- If you had postnatal depression or a history of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), it’s more likely that you’ll experience anxiety-type symptoms during menopause
- Those who had high anxiety premenopause may still be anxious during menopause but are not at increased risk of higher anxiety during the stages of menopause
- Those who had low anxiety premenopausally may be more susceptible to high anxiety during and after menopause
Read more about the stages of menopause.
What are the signs of anxiety?
Panic attacks, uncontrollable feelings of worry, feeling of impending doom, restlessness or feeling on edge
Physical symptoms, such as nausea, heart palpitations
Sleep difficulties or difficulty concentrating
HOW CAN YOU REDUCE MENOPAUSE ANXIETY?
1. Talking therapy. Talk to your doctor about cognitive behaviour therapy, which can help low mood and anxiety
2. Increase exercise. Ensure that you are getting enough exercise – studies show that moderate to vigorous physical activity is related to an uplift in mood
3. Manage stress. Yoga, Tai Chi and meditation may help
4. Good sleep hygiene. Keep a regular bedtime and wake time to get good quality sleep
5. Wind down before bed. Avoid using any screens before bed (including phones, computers and televisions)
WOULD HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT) HELP?
ANXIETY AND MENOPAUSE
Stella has helped me gain control of my thoughts.”