People who age can feel and see a lot of changes in their physical and mental state. Most of these changes are things that tend to limit their physical capabilities and cognitive efficiency. This is particularly true for females who are experiencing or have experienced a stage that is known as menopause, a phase that occurs in women around 40 to 50 years old. Menopause can indeed bring about a number of changes and one of them is the tendency of individuals to feel or experience feelings of anxiety. But is menopause and anxiety even connected? In this article, we attempt to answer this question so read on if you want to find out!
Anxiety During Menopause: A General Overview
Some women may feel troubled or sad while undergoing menopause mostly due to the different changes occurring within and outside their bodies. This includes the appearance of wrinkles, other signs of aging, and fertility loss. While others may feel relief that they are no longer going to get pregnant. On top of this, numerous women will find life changes that are significant during this stage. Kids start leaving home (either for work or for college), the woman’s partner or parent can become sick as well due to the aging process. All of these factors can, in fact, result in anxiety during menopause.
Changes to the hormonal levels of individuals during the menopause stage can also be considered as drivers of anxiety, particularly for the hormones progesterone and estrogen which are known to both have an impact on mood and emotions. All of these signs may go away on their own once the stage known as perimenopause is over and when these affected women transition to a stage known as postmenopause where more balanced hormonal levels can be expected.
Some Treatment Options for Menopause-Induced Anxiety
Doctors may recommend that women affected by the symptoms of menopause such as anxiety undergo a medical procedure known as HRT or hormone replacement therapy and other similar treatments to address the symptoms of menopause. However, it must be noted that there are a number of female patients who may not qualify for the aforementioned hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and as such, it is always best to work closely with a healthcare professional or a doctor before making the decision to go through with menopause treatment.
If a patient is going through high levels of anxiety during her menopause, doctors or healthcare professionals may recommend treatment options to address the said anxiety via medication that is prescribed. In addition, doctors may also recommend counseling for the patient. Patients who have been identified with anxiety that is classified as moderate-to-severe may also be given a form of popular antidepressant known as SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
These SSRIs can be extremely potent in having the symptoms of anxiety addressed and improved. It may be noteworthy to mention though that people who took these forms of medication may experience certain side effects such as a dip in their sex lives. This is because the main side effects usually result in difficulty achieving orgasm, maintaining arousal, and overall reduced libido. Fortunately, there are other anti-depressants that may help women who may encounter side effects with regard to their sexual lives. These include antidepressants that are newer or more current such as duloxetine and bupropion.
Other antidepressants that are older which include MOA or monoamine oxidase and tricyclic antidepressants are not associated with any side effects related to sexual functions. However, these older antidepressants can cause other adverse effects for the patients. Reducing the dosage of these medications can help alleviate the aforementioned side effects. It must be noted though that individuals who wish to lower or reduce their medicine dose (or make any adjustments to it) should first consult with their healthcare professional or doctor before going through with the said medication adjustments. This is because doing so without the advice or recommendation of a healthcare professional can result in consequences that are severe or counterproductive.
Some Lifestyle Change Tips for Anxiety during Menopause
Medical experts believe that observing a lifestyle that is healthy can aid with the reduction of panic attacks and in alleviating the symptoms of menopause. Exercises that are gentle and constant can help in the significant reduction of anxiety. Females who are experiencing perimenopause should choose their preferred type of exercise and ensure that this type of exercise becomes part of a daily habit. Regardless if it is yoga, swimming, running or, walking, exercising regularly can aid in having the nervous energy burned off and address anxiety causes.
In addition to regular exercise, individuals can also try reducing or lowering their intake of alcohol and caffeine. This is because caffeine is a known initiator of nervousness and anxiety. On the other hand, alcohol is a form of depressant that can turn regularly feelings of anxiety much worse. One form of alternative medicine that may be effective against anxiety is acupuncture along with the treatment of other anxiety symptoms. Sleep that is adequate and of good quality has also been observed to improve feelings of anxiety. It must be noted though that woman who is currently experiencing the symptoms of menopause can have a poor quality of sleep due to a night sweat resulting from hormonal surges.
Some patients find that having a pre-sleep journal can aid in the improvement of sleep. For this type of diary, people can jot down their thoughts that are considered nervous or anxious which in turn can help them relax or rest their thoughts. Fortunately, there are some focus groups dedicated to women experiencing menopause and these groups can be greatly beneficial. Through these groups, women with similar experiences and symptoms can get together to talk about their best practices and how they deal with their condition in their own unique ways.
If a female individual is undergoing menopause and has some anxious thoughts or feelings of nervousness but does not want to join any of the aforementioned groups, discussing this with her friends could be of great help.