Constantly worrying, ruminating, and feeling restless? Perimenopause anxiety might be to blame.
Transitioning to menopause can come with a slew of uncomfortable, irritating, and sometimes even
horrible perimenopause symptoms. While you might be expecting common symptoms like hot flashes or mood changes, you may not be familiar with perimenopause anxiety.
Perimenopause anxiety is when you may feel extra dread, worry, or fear, and you’re in the transition period toward menopause. Here’s what you need to know about the link between perimenopause and anxiety and how to navigate it.
What is perimenopause anxiety?
Perimenopause anxiety is any feelings of anticipation, dread, worry, or fear in everyday situations. You might feel mental, physical, and emotional symptoms like:
Constant worrying Rumination Trouble concentrating Feeling irritable or restless Feeling tense and unable to relax Quickened heartbeat Increased sweating Nausea >>MORE: If you’re having trouble focusing or feeling like your mind is hazy, learn about perimenopause brain fog.
Perimenopause anxiety feels like anxiety you and other people might experience when they’re not going through perimenopause. The difference between perimenopause anxiety and general anxiety is that your anxiety is caused or heightened by your menopausal transition.
What if I already have anxiety?
If you already have anxiety, perimenopause anxiety might not feel much different—and you might not notice any increased anxiety at all. One
study suggests that women who already have high levels of anxiety before going through perimenopause may not be at an increased risk of high anxiety during perimenopause. On the other hand, women with low anxiety levels before perimenopause may be more susceptible to high anxiety levels during perimenopause. Causes of perimenopause anxiety
Perimenopause anxiety is caused by not only hormonal changes that come with perimenopause, but also the symptoms and life transitions.
During perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone—two hormones that play a vital role in regulating your physical and cognitive functions—start to fluctuate.
studies show that estrogen has a direct impact on mood regulation. Estrogen affects the brain’s serotonin levels, which influence mood and emotional stability. When estrogen levels decrease, so does serotonin production, which may contribute to anxiety. Physical Symptoms
Perimenopause can come with a variety of different physical symptoms, from night sweats and hot flashes to chronic sleep disturbance. These symptoms can cause irritability, difficulty concentrating, and heightened stress levels—all of which can contribute to anxiety.
It’s not just that these physical symptoms can make you more anxious, but that actually worrying about the symptoms can cause anxiety. Not knowing when a hot flash will arise, or getting stressed about lack of sleep, for example, can be anxiety-provoking.
Perimenopause typically occurs during a woman’s late 30s or early 40s, a time that often corresponds with significant life changes, like career transitions, children leaving home, or aging parents.
you can get pregnant during perimenopause, this transition also signifies the gradual end toward a woman’s reproductive years.
All of these life changes and significant moments can be emotional and stressful, making women more susceptible to anxiety during this time.
How long does perimenopause anxiety last?
Perimenopause anxiety can last as long as perimenopause does, which can be as short as several months and as long as several years.
The anxieties that may arise during this transition, though, will ease as you start menopause. That doesn’t mean you have to wait it out until then, either; in the meantime, there are a variety of strategies to help treat perimenopause anxiety.
Perimenopause anxiety treatment
Perimenopause anxiety can be navigated through a variety of strategies, whether that’s lifestyle adjustments, mental health interventions, or medication.
Perimenopause anxiety treatment includes:
Exercise: Regular exercise is a great way to boost your mood, sleep, and lower stress, all of which help alleviate anxiety. Any kind of exercise you can do consistently can be helpful. A study showed that perimenopausal women who participated in aerobics training reported lower levels of anxiety. Diet changes: Lower your intake of foods that can increase anxiety, like processed meats, high sugar foods, and caffeine and alcohol. Adequate sleep: Sleep deprivation can exacerbate anxiety. While it can be difficult to get sound sleep when you have other perimenopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, establishing good sleep hygiene can help you get the hours you need. Professional support: Seeking help from a mental health professional, especially one who specializes in perimenopause anxiety or menopause anxiety can help with coping strategies. Medication: Some anti-anxiety medications can help reduce the symptoms you’re feeling. Perimenopause and anxiety: the bottom line
Perimenopause can be a challenging transition, and having anxiety during it doesn’t make it any easier. Perimenopause anxiety may arise due to the hormonal fluctuations during this time, but can also come from perimenopause symptoms and life transitions. Regardless of the cause, there are a variety of strategies you can take to navigate perimenopause anxiety—and help alleviate your symptoms.