Anxiety during menopause – causes and lifestyle solutions
Author: BeingEve | Posted on Sunday February 4, 2018
What causes anxiety during menopause?
Many factors can cause anxiety during menopause but the most common cause is low or decreased levels of oestrogen. Oestrogen has a significant effect on the brain’s regulation of moods and emotions so changes in oestrogen levels have a direct effect on the neurochemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and melatonin. If anxiety is not managed it may escalate into panic attacks.
Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of menopause and it can be the most unsettling, so if this is how you are feeling you are most definitely not alone. For many women, increased anxiety levels are an early sign that they are in peri-menopause and they will experience this symptom before other symptoms such as hot flushes which are more commonly known.
Women suffering from anxiety may find themselves worrying endlessly for no apparent reason about everyday events and may wake up during the night feeling anxious and tirelessly going over tomorrow’s to do list. Symptoms of anxiety can also include nervousness, lack of confidence, difficulty coping and concentrating, trouble relaxing, mood swings and irritability. Physically, you might also suffer heart palpitations, fatigue, muscle aches, digestive problems, excessive sweating and shortness of breath.
Lifestyle solutions to help manage anxiety during menopause
Anxiety during menopause can be treated naturally by implementing self-help techniques and by making lifestyle changes.
1. Feel good through exercise
Research has proven that exercise can reduce anxiety and improve your mood. By doing regular, light aerobic exercise you will release ‘feel-good’ hormones such as endorphins which will leave you feeling uplifted. Exercise can also boost your self-confidence and take your mind off your everyday worries.
2. Take time out for yourself each day
It’s so important to find some time out of the day just for you. Menopause often hits when a woman is at her busiest – working, looking after the house, caring for children and elderly parents – there is so much going on at this time of your life and it can become overwhelming. But you need to give your body a rest so that it can adjust to all the changes that are happening – both your body and your mind needs some TLC! So find just 30 minutes a day to just sit and read, have a power nap, meditate, do some yoga or listen to relaxation tapes – whatever you do – put yourself first.
3. Try a yoga practice
Yoga is a fantastic and natural way to help alleviate anxiety during menopause by bringing you to a calmer place both emotionally and physically.
According to ‘The Science behind Yoga and Stress’, by Dr M Storoni MD PhD, there are two functional parts of the brain that play a key role in stress – the functional brain and the emotional brain, the latter one is able to initiate a ‘stress response’ via the sympathetic nervous system, which culminates in adrenaline and cortisol racing through our circulation. Every time we hold a posture, the logical brain is being activated. At the end of a series of yoga postures, the logical brain has had a ‘workout’. You feel mentally calm as it is keeping your emotional brain quiet. Stronger connections within the logical brain keeps the lid down on the emotional brain and the stress response. This is why yoga can be so effective at reducing stress. Yoga also controls breathing and in turn, a controlled breath reduces anxiety.
Read our article: Yoga and menopause – a solid marraige
Hypnotherapy encourages the mind to reach a more profound state of relaxation allowing you to feel more in control and less anxious. In a more relaxed state, the mind is more receptive to positive suggestion and change. Therefore, with a little practice you can begin to access this calmer state of mind, regaining a sense of confidence and control and reducing the overwhelming feelings of fear and worry.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. It’s a great technique that has helped many women through menopause. The technique allows you to take out to sit or walk and simply tune into your breathing. As you attempt to focus on your breathing, you are likely to be distracted by all kinds of thoughts but you are taught to simply notice such thoughts without engaging with them and then refocus on your breathing. The key idea is to allow ourselves simply to note our thoughts as they arise, in a non-judgemental way.
Mindfulness has helped many women ease through menopause, from a physiological approach by breathing properly, focusing your mind, and consciously relaxing you are able to reduce your heart-rate. This in turn reduces the rate cortisol is pumped around your body, and convinces your brain that there’s nothing to be anxious about. Once you have integrated practicing meditative techniques into your life regularly it is possible to actively change your brain, predisposing it towards calm and repose, and making it more capable of achieving emotional equilibrium independently.
If you feel overwhelmed by fear or worry or are concerned about your symptoms then seeking medical advice is advisable.
To identify and monitor your individual symptoms, why not try out our Free Menopause Symptoms Tracker.