Anxiety and menopause

8 June 2015  |  Editor

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How you might reduce anxiety associated with the menopause

Anxiety is when you are continually worried or tense. It appears to affect almost twice as many women as men and is a common symptom of the menopause.

Anxiety is characterised by a constant sense of worry over normal everyday events, much greater than the situation deserves. Although you may realise this, it can be difficult to shake off the feeling so that you are not constantly on edge and irritable. 

Anxiety can also disturb sleep, leading to a host of other menopausal problems such as memory lapses and headaches.

Why does menopause cause anxiety?

Women may feel an increase in anxiety before other symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes, set in. 

During the early stages of the menopause (known as the peri-menopause), levels of the female hormones start to fluctuate. These changes can lead to PMS symptoms which appear and worsen in the week or so before each menstrual period. Other psychological PMS symptoms such as low mood may also be present as well as physical symptoms such as period pains, bloating or breast tenderness.

Part of the explanation lies with the fact that oestrogen plays an important role in managing the chemical activities in your brain. When the level of oestrogen is high you feel well. As levels drop, a number of symptoms such as low mood and anxiety can set in.

What home remedies are there for anxiety?

Home remedies should be your first stop for treating anxiety during the menopause. Although some take time and dedication, it may be worth the effort in the long run:

  • Relaxation techniques – yoga, meditation and breathing exercises have been used for years to counteract anxiety. Being able to calm your body and mind can significantly reduce the severity or frequency of anxiety attacks
  • Healthy lifestyle – We have heard it all before, but a healthy diet and lifestyle can have a significant impact on how you feel. Follow the link to find out more on lifestyle tips to overcome anxiety
  • Reduce caffeine – caffeine is notorious for making people jittery, so consuming a lot of caffeine will only make your anxiety worse.

Many menopausal women find that taking a herbal remedy can bring the most useful relief from anxiety. These include:

Agnus castus. If your anxiety appears and worsens before each period and settles once menstrual bleeding starts, you might be experiencing a degree of PMS. Other PMS symptoms may also be present and if this is the case, try Agnus castus in the first instance

Avena sativa – this is the extract of oat straw and has been used as a nerve tonic for hundreds of years. It contains high levels of vitamin B, important for the proper function of the nervous system.

Passiflora – this plant originates from South America and the East Indies

Valerian root – this contains a number of plant components with calming effects on the nervous system. It can be found in tinctures such as Stress Relief Daytime or Dormeasan Sleep

Flower essences – there is a range of Jan de Vries flower essences including female essence, emergency essence and relaxing essence, which are designed to help with the different emotional aspects of the menopause.
What about conventional remedies?

It is worth trying home and herbal remedies first as these can provide the solution to your symptoms in the least intrusive way to your body. 

However, if these do not help, your doctor can prescribe several conventional medicines. These include anti-depressants and sedatives. Many of these have side-effects so discuss with your doctor which will be most suitable for you. You may have to try several types before finding the one that is right for you.

In addition, HRT has been used as a general treatment for a variety of menopausal symptoms.

Many conventional medicines for anxiety tackle severe symptoms. If you experience panic attacks or frequently feel overwhelmed by fear or worry, then it is important to visit your doctor. If you are concerned about your symptoms then seeking medical advice is also sensible.

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A herbal dietary supplement containing soy isoflavones, magnesium and hibiscus extract for all stages of the menopause.