By: Guest Author
Published: August 17, 2021
Written By Dr.Nancy L. Belcher, PhD.- Guest Contributor
Perimenopause and menopause cause all sorts of symptoms, and many of them are mood-related – including anxiety. Women often experience anxiety as a result of the hormonal changes brought on by perimenopause and menopause, specifically the drop in estrogen and progesterone. Menopause can lead to unpredictable mood swings, anxiety, and even depression.
Your late 30s through your 50s can be a very vulnerable time of life with major life changes, and in combination with the ever-dropping hormone levels, it often leads to anxiety. Most women with peri- and menopausal anxiety respond well to treatment, but recognizing the relationship between menopause and mood changes is the biggest hurdle. Women are still hesitant to discuss menopause with their friends or even doctors.
To add to the confusion, the psychological symptoms of perimenopause often occur up to five years before the more obvious physical symptoms of menopause. This delay in physical symptoms (an obvious hot flash or end of menses) can make the diagnosis of perimenopausal and menopausal anxiety difficult. The diagnosis of perimenopausal anxiety is often made retrospectively which means women are suffering unnecessarily due to a missed diagnosis.
Anxiety is a serious problem that doesn’t necessarily improve with time. Peri- and menopause can last 20 years! There is no need to suffer unnecessarily with these menopausal mental health concerns. If left untreated, they can significantly impact a woman’s quality of life and that of her family (1).
Anxiety can lead to depression when left untreated. Tragically, suicide in middle-aged women is becoming a more common occurrence that could be prevented through increased awareness of the root causes, and make medical solutions, such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), available (2).
Why Increased Anxiety?
Menopause and perimenopause impact both a woman’s mind and her body. The dramatic decrease in estrogen and progesterone during peri- and menopause is often overwhelming. Eighty percent of women in menopause experience hot flashes or night sweats, setting women up for interrupted sleep and unpredictable days. Persistent sleep disturbances caused by hot flashes contribute to the development and worsening of anxiety symptoms (2). Unfortunately, many women often do not correlate their anxiety and sleep disorders with menopause.
It is critically important for women experiencing anxiety in their late 30’s to mid-40s to recognize that they may be in perimenopause. As we age, these decades often mark significant life changes that can adversely impact a woman’s mental health. During this time, women may be helping aging/ailing parents, saying goodbye to children who are leaving home, facing increased career demands, and possibly dealing with other personal health concerns. This combination of physical and environmental changes causes stress and anxiety which also affects a woman’s ability to function (3,4).
Symptoms of Menopausal Anxiety
● Hot flashes/night sweats
● Low Energy
● Irritability or hostility
● Decreased self-esteem
● Sleep disturbances
● Decreased sexual interest
● Memory & Concentration Problems
Management of Menopausal Anxiety
The good news is that there are effective treatments. If a woman’s medical history allows, anxiety can be abated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (1). Additionally, let’s not underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. Anxiety is correlated with sleep disturbances. By decreasing the number of hot flashes or night sweats, sleep will likely improve and anxiety can be reduced. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and minimizing alcohol intake can also help.
Perimenopause and menopause can cause anxiety due to the drop in hormones, which can make women very vulnerable. Not only are they experiencing physical changes, but their mental health is likely shifting. Most women with perimenopausal anxiety respond to treatment. It is not appropriate to deem this type of anxiety as minor or presume that it will improve with time. The process of menopause can take decades to complete.
There is no need to suffer unnecessarily with these menopausal symptoms that if left untreated, can impact a woman’s quality of life and that of her family. You can start feeling better today. Seek to curb the anxiety with HRT treatment by visiting Winona today.
3. Clayton AH, Ninan PT. Depression or menopause? Presentation and management of major depressive disorder in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2010;12:r00747. 10.4088/PCC.08r00747blu [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3303.0 – Causes of Death, Australia, 2015. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics; 2016 Sep 28. www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/ allprimarymainfeatures/2ABFC8DC5C3C53A9CA25 81A7001599A3?opendocument# [cited 2018 Nov 1]
“This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.”
Short Bio of Dr.Nancy L. Belcher, PhD., MPA
Dr.Nancy L. Belcher, PhD.,MPA is a veteran of the scientific and nonprofit business world. Nancy effectively partners with healthcare providers, scientists and industry stakeholders to improve healthcare for all. She is an active member of the North American Menopause Society and an advocate dedicated to improving the lives of so many women. A woman of substance who dedicated her life to Science. If she’s not working, Nancy enjoys spending her free time with her husband, Dr. Chris Belcher, their five sons, and one daughter-in-law.
The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.