Does Menopause Cause Anxiety?
Some women begin to experience a new onset of anxiety during perimenopause. While it is true that low levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause mood changes, anxiety typically occurs when other triggers exist in combination with the changing hormones. When feeling anxious, it is easy to believe that physically something is wrong, but in most cases, anxiety is a mental health issue.
Midlife can be a time when other life changes are happening. For some, their children have left the home, causing feelings of anxiety and loss. For others, the end of fertility and the inability to get pregnant can stir up feelings of anxiety or loss. Many find they need to care for aging parents or manage their own health issues. Relationships can change such as in a divorce, becoming widowed, or entering the unfamiliar dating scene. Women might not feel like themselves which can trigger low self-esteem.
Some women report panic attacks during menopause.
The connection between panic attacks and menopause isn’t clear. Those who have experienced anxiety, panic attacks, or postpartum depression in the past may be more likely to experience panic attacks during menopause, indicating that panic attacks aren’t the symptom, but a reaction to menopause. For instance, if one isn’t getting restful sleep because of night sweats, this can cause frustration and feed into anxious feelings. Getting upset about menopause symptoms fuels anxiety, while being calm and mindful can help alleviate anxiety.
When anxiety strikes, feeling alone with the anxiety can worsen the symptoms. Reach out to trusted family or friends with whom you feel safe and share your concerns. If uncomfortable with this, reach out to a counselor or talk with your doctor for counseling recommendations. Focus on taking care of yourself and your basic needs, such as getting plenty of rest, exercising, and eating a balanced diet. Acupuncture and prescription medications may also be helpful.
If anxiety lasts longer than two weeks and begins to interfere with relationships or work, and there is no clear solution, know that help is available. Be kind to yourself and get that help. You may also feel better once hormones level out. While the menopause transition can be challenging, and anxiety is common, you don’t need to struggle unnecessarily and there are ways to manage anxious feelings.