Anxiety is something many people experience throughout their lives. It is a combination of feelings, usually those of fear and worry. People with anxiety also experience great levels of tension and nervousness. Sometimes when people become anxious, it is also coupled with palpitations or shortness of breath. Persistent anxiety can be difficult to live with because it can disturb behavior, mood, and everyday activities.
When a woman hits the age of perimenopause, anxiety can be one of the major symptoms she notices. Normally, situations can make us anxious, having to make a big decision can make us anxious, being uncertain of the future can make us anxious, and many other circumstances can trigger feelings of anxiety. In perimenopause however, anxiety is doubled or tripled than what would be considered normal.
Women may notice that their anxious feelings last longer, or they feel anxious all the time. They may also notice other things like the inability to sleep through the night, forgetfulness or memory loss, and irritability. It can be difficult to do everyday activities because they feel like something is going to go wrong any minute. Perimenopause anxiety stresses their everyday relationships and puts them on edge about everything and ourselves.
What causes perimenopause anxiety?
A woman's estrogen hormones have an effect on anxiety because estrogen helps regulate the levels of cortisol in the brain. Cortisol is the hormone that gives a person that “stressed” feeling. When estrogen drops (as it does in perimenopause), cortisol production is increased, producing more stress in a woman, and making them feel anxious. This is the main physical cause of perimenopause anxiety. Everytime estrogen drops and cortisol reacts, you feel anxious. Estrogen also has a direct affect on the brain chemicals serotinin, norephinephrine, dopamine, and melatonin. When these fluctuate as a result of diminished estrogen, anxiety can also be triggered.
Other causes of perimenopause anxiety could be social pressure, hectic work environments, or family problems. These don't actually cause the anxiety, rather they trigger it, causing cortisol levels to soar. Usually, if the cause of the anxiety was an outside trigger and not just a sudden drop in estrogen due to perimenopause, the anxiety will pass once the stressor is removed.
Why should women be concerned?
Perimenopause anxiety can truly be debilitating, and sadly, it can lead to other more serious anxiety disorders. The psychological anxiety disorders often linked to perimenopause are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Panic Disorder. The symptoms of these disorders usually have to last at least six months (for GAD) and several episodes of unexplained dread (for PD.)
Because of this possibility, women who experience anxiety as a symptom of their perimenopause have to find natural ways to calm themselves down and reassure themselves of whatever they are feeling. Sometimes meditation, exercise, and change of diet can help. Other women stand by natural medicine techniques.
Before trying out any form of treatment, however, seek professional help. You doctor may have some great advice on how to deal with perimenopause anxiety.
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