08 Aug 2013
Menopause Anxiety? Don’t Hit the Panic Button Just Yet.
By Holly Osterman
If you were sitting in a room with a group of menopausal women, you’d expect the conversation to turn quickly to hot flashes and mood swings. So you might be surprised at the number of women who point to anxiety as their most challenging symptom. And interestingly, many of these women had never experienced any level of panic or anxiety in their earlier years.
Sure, most of us have felt nervous or overwhelmed before exams, first dates or job interviews, but usually not while watching television or reading a book. Some women in menopause begin to have difficulty concentrating. They worry unnecessarily or feel tense and irritable with no obvious trigger. And it seems like these types of symptoms are becoming increasingly common.
Why the sudden bouts of anxiety during menopause? Well, anxiety is a complex symptom, but according to recent research, it may be our hormones wreaking havoc. In this case, the decreased levels of estrogen may potentially be the issue. Estrogen has a significant effect on the brain’s regulation of moods and emotions. And because our bodies are going through “the change,” estrogen is in short supply.
And while we often want to blame our problems on fluctuating hormones, we also need to take responsibility for the way we feel. We tend to place a lot of stress on ourselves, both at work and at home. We may have financial obligations, relationship issues or are caring for elderly parents. Stress can impact our lives not just emotionally, but physically, as well.
Obviously, we’re all searching for solutions. But before you start Googling your way to self-diagnosis, talk to a professional. You and your provider need an open line of communication and trust so that they can help steer you in the right direction. More than likely, you’ll be making some lifestyle changes. Adding healthy food choices, exercising and finding ways to manage your stress need to be priorities. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, different types of medication can provide some much needed relief.
Most importantly, be patient and kind to yourself. While it seems like many of your menopause symptoms struck overnight, it may take far longer until you feel like your old self again. Keep an open mind, do your homework and find opportunities to connect with other women who are going through exactly the same thing. No matter what you think, you’re not alone.
Holly Osterman is the founder of Menopause ChitChat and blogs regularly about the journey through menopause. She also hosts a menopause forum, where women can share their stories, ask questions, and chat live with other women.