Going through menopause and suffering from anxiety? Here’s why and how you can deal with it
We caught up with some experts to understand the overwhelming statistics on how anxiety is linked to menopause and how we can treat it.
98% of women report feelings of anxiety during menopause and perimenopause, according to recent research by Anxiety UK and Kalms.
85% of women surveyed believe that their anxiety was triggered by menopause and an alarming 61% of these women have been recommended anti-depressants as a result.
‘Anxiety is a prevalent symptom of menopause, but awareness amongst women and indeed healthcare practitioners, is low,’ says Anxiety UK CEO, Nicky Lidbetter. ‘Societally, most of us are familiar with hot flushes and weight gain as being symptoms of menopause; this survey, however, shows that we need to get much better at recognising anxiety as being a key symptom.
‘Indeed, Anxiety UK wants all women experiencing perimenopausal and menopausal anxiety to have fast access to accessible support and to have access to a wide range of treatments,’ adds Nicky.
THE LINK BETWEEN MENOPAUSE AND ANXIETY
Anxiety occurs when your body’s ‘fight or flight’ defence works continuously. An imbalance in the way the body processes environmental and sensory stimuli leads to a disproportionate excitatory response and excessive release of neurotransmitters between nerve cells in the brain. Leading to overstimulation of the nervous system and feelings of anxiety.
During menopause and perimenopause, changing hormone levels contribute to this imbalance in the brain and heightened levels of anxiety. “When you start menopause, oestrogen levels begin to decline and fluctuate. Your body also produces less progesterone,’ explains Immediate Past Chair of the British Menopause Society, Kathy Abernethy.
‘Both of these hormones influence the production of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is a mood-regulating transmitter. Alongside these emotional changes, coping with physical symptoms, such as sleeplessness and hot flushes, can leave women feeling worn out, frustrated and of course anxious,’ continues Kathy.
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HOW TO DEAL WITH ANXIETY?
According to a new Public Health England report, women are 1.5 times more likely to be prescribed drugs, such as benzodiazepines, than men. As a habit-forming drug, benzodiazepines are highly addictive; withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea and anxiety, creating a vicious dependency cycle.
Research suggests that there is a non-addictive alternative to benzodiazepines for subthreshold anxiety sufferers. Uniquely prepared, pharmaceutical-quality lavender oil is shown to reduce excessive neurotransmitter activity, reduce overstimulation and hyperactivity of the nervous response, and improve symptoms of mild anxiety.
‘More than 15 clinical trials show that Lavender oil is effective at reducing the psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety, says Professor Hans Peter Volz, professor of psychiatry and an expert in the clinical effects of Lavender oil. ‘The effects are comparable to treatment with pharmacological medication, including benzodiazepines, but without the common side effects such as sedation or addiction.’