It’s true that low levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause mood changes, but it’s not the only factor that can cause anxiety.
Q: Ever since I started menopause, I’ve become more anxious. A friend told me that this could be caused by low estrogen levels. What’s the link between my anxiety and menopause?
Menopause is a life change that can cause unpredictable emotions to arise. And while it’s true that the decline of estrogen and progesterone may be responsible for mood changes like depression and irritability, hormonal shifts aren’t solely responsible for a spike in anxiety — which may be why you’re feeling anxious about “the change.”
For some people, no longer being able to have children can trigger feelings of anxiety and loss, especially if they experienced fertility challenges or pregnancy loss in the past.
Menopause is also often silenced in our culture, which means many people don’t openly discuss what they’re going through, even with their closest friends. Feeling alone during this life transition can also worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Big life changes can also rattle your self-image. This is why stories from peers can help dismantle the negative emotions surrounding this hormonal rollercoaster.
If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to friends, or don’t know anyone going through the same thing, look for a menopause support group at a local medical center or ask for a referral from your gynecologist or other healthcare provider.
If you live in a rural or remote area, you can try connecting online with a therapist or find a private support group on a social media site like Reddit or Facebook.
Getting plenty of rest, exercise, and eating a balanced diet can also keep menopause-related anxiety under control.
Some people opt for acupuncture to help manage their symptoms, as well as prescription hormonal therapies.
Whatever you choose, speak to your doctor about your concerns, so they’re aware you’re experiencing anxiety and you feel it’s related to menopause.
Juli Fraga lives in San Francisco with her husband, daughter, and two cats. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Real Simple, the Washington Post, NPR, the Science of Us, the Lily, and Vice. As a psychologist, she loves writing about mental health and wellness. When she’s not working, she enjoys bargain shopping, reading, and listening to live music. You can find her on Twitter.