For many women, heightened anxiety can strike during the few years approaching menopause and after. Rattled nerves, endless cycles of worry, and even full-blown panic attacks can onset due to fluctuations in brain chemistry and hormones.
Definition of Menopause Anxiety
Anxiety during menopause describes the intense, pandemic and spiraling state of fear and worry that can overtake women during their premenopause, perimenopause, or post-menopause years.
Symptoms of Menopause Anxiety
Menopause anxiety may be indicated by the onset of panic attacks, difficulty breathing, profuse sweating, clammy hands, and cold extremities. Heartbeat generally quickens (tachycardia) or becomes erratic (arrhythmia). Thoughts may likewise race, bouncing around from fear to fear. Some individuals become so anxious that they develop phobias, and in some cases cannot bring themselves to leave the house or perform daily responsibilities. Anxiety can also lead to indecisiveness, depression, and difficulty focusing. Here are some common symptoms of menopause anxiety:
- Profuse sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
- Racing thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty breathing
- Weight gain
Causes of Anxiety
During menopause, declines in estrogen can lead to changes in the brain’s levels of neurotransmitters – chemical messengers that regulate energy and mood. As the levels of these neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine,for example, become altered, mood changes occur. Anxiety often occurs as the body’s “fight or flight” reaction becomes activated, preparing the brain and body to respond to a crisis. Unfortunately, as a result of these chemical changes, the brain and body often prepare for a crisis when there is no present threat.
Other causes of anxiety can include trauma survival, generalized anxiety disorder, stress overload, and a host of other psychological and physical conditions.
Treatment of Anxiety
Menopause anxiety can be treated from a variety of different angles, natureboth physical and mental. Psychologists and therapists can work with patients to reduce fears and improve responses to traumatic stimuli, though such measures are often less than fully effective if the cause for anxiety is more physical. Anxiolytic medications or antidepressants can also improve anxiety, though many carry side effects for users. Natural treatment is also an option if you are looking to alleviate your symptoms without the risk of harmful side effects that some medications and HRT carry.
Q: What are some things I can do to calm menopause anxiety?
A: Anxiety can be managed by medication or medicines that attempt to regulate hormone levels.You can also take advantage of mind-body exercises such as meditation, visualization, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong in an attempt to center yourself. Naming objects aloud can have a grounding effect for those experiencing a panic attack, and many women benefit from talk therapy and anxiolytic medication in extreme cases.
Risks of Anxiety
Q: What are some risks of menopause anxiety?
Menopause anxiety can carry a few important risks to menopausal women. First, anxiety can raise stress levels, causing the body to hold on to even more weight, an issue already created by dropping estrogen levels. Additionally, anxiety can lead to increased cardiac risk, weakening of the heart walls as chronic panic attacks take place. Anxiety attacks can also cause sudden reactions of verbal or physical violence, in extreme cases.