What Causes Anxiety in Perimenopause?
Anxiety during perimenopause is perhaps one of the most common complaints I hear from my readers. It was certainly a serious problem for me during my own years in perimenopause, and was often compounded by full blown panic attacks and heart palpitations.
The conventional wisdom of some physicians on the topic is that if a woman was prone to anxiety before she entered perimenopause, it is likely she will suffer with it during perimenopause. I don’t know about you, but this explanation has never really set well with me.
First, not only does it fail to offer any solutions, but it is also suggests that perhaps the real source of anxiety is not the hormone imbalance in perimenopause, but unaddressed emotional and psychological issues.
Like I said, this doesn’t really set well with me.
I happen to believe – and you can darn well quote me on this – that perimenopause is far too complex to have it explained it away with such simplistic medical pablum. A woman’s temperament may have some bearing on how well she manages her perimenopause symptoms. But, anxiety during perimenopause is more likely to be rooted in the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone, or adrenal imbalance, which can result in adrenal fatigue, and even issues with thyroid function – all common problems for women in perimenopause which can contribute to anxiety.
What Can You Do For Anxiety During Perimenopause?
In my view, the thing that makes treating perimenopause symptoms so difficult is that the entire experience is one big, self-perpetuating cycle. For example, the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone during perimenopause creates stress in the body.
Stress in the body triggers emotional and psychological responses, which in turn can create more stress, which in turn again, can create more hormone imbalance, which creates more stress, and the cycle continues until women eventually collapse from exhaustion, convinced they are having a nervous breakdown.
A good place to begin addressing anxiety in perimenopause is by balancing your hormones. For many women, simply introducing biodentical progesterone is a huge help. It not only helps balance estrogen, but it has a calming effect in the body as well. Bioidentical progesterone also helps with insomnia which can easily exacerbate anxiety and stress.
For adrenal fatigue, supplements such as DHEA and B-vitamins have been shown to help restore balance. Though simply sleeping more will actually do wonders to help you recover from adrenal fatigue!
Thyroid imbalance such as hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid) can cause not only anxiety, but heart palpitations and panic attacks as well. A simple blood test can reveal if your thyroid hormone levels are out of balance, and help determine if you need medication.
When stuck in the cycle of stress and anxiety in perimenopause, a lot of women resort to anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants to help them cope. While I certainly understand why – it just seems so much easier sometimes - there really are no quick fixes.
Balancing your hormones, addressing possible adrenal fatigue or thyroid issues, eating a diet balanced with protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates, along with moderate daily exercise is a far better approach which actually addresses the root causes of the anxiety.
And finally, it’s important to remember that while it may feel like it, perimenopause is not a “forever” experience. Once actual menopause is reached the turbulence of hormone imbalance will be over with all of its nasty symptoms. But, until that time, batten down the hatches, sisters, and be nice to yourselves. You’re going to need it.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.