Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about the question, "Does the menopause anxiety go away?".
So, anxiety. We have found over the years that this is the number two symptom that women will experience through the menopause, not far behind hot flushes and night sweats.
It can have a huge impact on daily life and on our mental and physical health. So, although it's something I have covered a number of times, I'm going to go through it again.
Why does menopause cause anxiety?
We know that falling oestrogen seems to be behind the majority of causes of anxiety.
And this drop in oestrogen makes us more vulnerable and reactive to any kind of stress that's going on in our lives. It can also be unexplained anxiety. And a lot of women find that the anxiety will just hit them, and they'll say to me, "I don't understand what's going on. I'm not stressed. I'm not having any worries but I'm waking up every morning in this dreadful state of total anxiety."
So, it's the lack of hormones affecting the way in which our brain works. And we tend to process things slightly differently in terms of our emotions. So things that, before, would never have bothered us, now will take on gigantic proportions, and that will lead us to these feelings of anxiety and also things like fear, and terror, and just feeling really, really worried and awful about what's going to happen to us and everything else that's going on in the world.
Does anxiety get worse with menopause?
We do find that any kind of ongoing symptom or chronic condition that you have before the menopause tend to get magnified during the menopause as well. So, if you've been an anxious person, if you've been a bit of a worrier, or you're just not sure about things before the menopause, then it's certainly possible that these feelings will seem worse as you go through the menopause.
How long can menopause anxiety last?
This is one of these things that is going to be different for everybody. For some women, it's going to just be for a short while, maybe a few months. For other women, it can be there in the background right through the whole of the menopause.
It can depend on a lot of things. It can be to do with your general health or it can be to do with your general stress levels. The more you're stressed, the more you are run-down, the more likely you're going to be aware of anxiety and anxious feelings that are creeping in.
Does anxiety go away after menopause?
So, does it go away after the menopause? One of the things I've discovered about anxiety from personal experience (it was one of my main symptoms) is I know just how utterly awful and crippling it can be, especially the early morning anxiety. And I found for me that my nervous system just didn't quite bounce back after the menopause.
Eventually, I learned how to deal with the anxiety. And I realised that for me, if I pushed myself, if I was run-down, if I wasn't looking after myself, if I was doing too much and if I wasn't resting, then my anxiety tended to be a lot worse.
So now, my nervous system is more reactive. I will worry about things a lot more easily than I did before, but I've learned to recognise the symptoms, and it's knowing the prelude to the anxiety. So, I get certain feelings. Sometimes, my right eyelid will start to twitch involuntarily, and I know that's the point where I need to take stock of things.
So, the answer is yes. The anxiety can disappear as your hormones start to balance out, as you get towards the end of the menopause. But you need to be aware that, very often, if you had anxiety during the menopause, you need to take better care of your nervous system forever afterwards.
What helps ease anxiety during menopause?
So, what can you do to help yourself?
Certainly, the water. Dehydration is a huge issue with anxiety. It will cause the panic attacks and it can cause palpitations and the breathlessness. So, please, please, please remember your water on a daily basis. It can make a huge difference really, really quickly.
Number two, check your diet. Make sure you're getting enough nutrient-rich foods to supply you with things like magnesium and your B vitamins, which you need to have a healthy and strong nervous system.
If you feel your diet's not particularly good, if you're not eating well, or you just think you need that little bit extra, go for a magnesium supplement, maybe 150 milligrams twice a day. And you can go for a vitamin B-50 complex, once a day as well, and that will certainly help to stabilise your nervous system.
Exercise is great. It creates feel-good hormones that can lift you up. So, even if it's just that 10 minute walk (like once a day round the block when you're at work), as long as you're moving on a regular basis, that's going to have a positive impact on your nervous system, too.
Well, we know that sleep is an issue for many, many menopausal women, so this is something that you can try and improve if you can. We've got a great sleep remedy called Dormeasan.
There is also magnesium. Some women find that taking a magnesium supplement with their evening meal can help to get them off to sleep. And I know a lot of women tell me that they listen to really nice, relaxing music or sounds of nature before they go to bed, and that seems to be quite a good one for helping you to get off to sleep that little bit quicker.
Remember the daily relaxation. This is where looking after yourself really comes in. And I found that, if I skipped the relaxation, if I couldn't be bothered to do my meditations, then the anxiety tended to be worse. So, this is one that's worth its weight in gold for all sorts of menopause symptoms, so please don't skip it.
You can look at breathing techniques if you feel that anxiety is starting to creep up on you (I know, for me, early morning anxiety was the main issue). And it was just learning, as soon as I woke up, to start doing the slow, deep breathing that made quite a difference.
Just look on YouTube – there's loads of sites that you can go on that will show you how to do very simple, deep breathing exercises. And, once you practice those every day, they end up becoming second nature. And, the minute you find the anxiety popping up, you can go straight into the deep breathing, and that can very often stop it in its tracks. The other thing to do is go for some of the remedies.
If it's low oestrogen, then our Menopause Support can often be very helpful if it's appropriate for you.
Look at stress remedies. We've got Stress Relief Daytime. You can look at things like passionflower. You can look at the flower essences. They're lovely. We do a lovely one called Relaxation Essence, which can just help to calm you down if you feel that you're getting really uptight, leading on to your anxiety.
Siberian ginseng is another great one for menopausal women, but there are a few contraindications with this. So, if you're on any medication, just check whether it's appropriate for you to take or not.
When to speak to your doctor
The other thing is, if the anxiety is starting to really get a grip, if you find that it's affecting your daily life, if it's affecting your confidence, your relationships, or your work, then this is the point when you need to go and see the doctor. We do know that, in some instances, you might need that little bit of extra help, so don't put up with this one because it only tends to get worse – unless you can do something to stop it.
Other therapies which can help
Other things you can look at would be maybe acupuncture, and also the CBT therapy as well can be very useful for helping you to feel that little bit more in control.
So, I hope you found this one useful. Anxiety is a huge symptom in the menopause, and this is just a tiny little snippet of what you can do to help yourself.
For those of you out there who've had anxiety and you've found really good ways to help yourself, we would love to know, so please share your tips. We really enjoy looking forward to seeing them, and we know that so many other women benefit from them as well.