PERIMENOPAUSE CAN TRIGGER ANXIETY. WHY DOESN'T ANY-ONE TELL YOU IT'S NORMAL!
Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause and yet it is the one that women least expect or even associate with hormones, let alone perimenopause.
As a Naturopathic and functional medicine doctor I see hundreds of women who come to see me for anxiety and are completely baffled and yet relieved to learn that in most cases it is related to their hormones. Once hormones are balanced then anxiety often goes away.
Many women who come to see me have already been put on anti-anxiety meds and are confused as to why this anxiety is suddenly happening to them. One woman described it as “I feel as if my body is betraying me.”
Perimenopause is not talked about as often as it should and often takes women completely by surprise as so many of the symptoms don't seem hormone related. Medications are sometimes needed but only address the symptoms and not the cause which is often a change in hormones.
As women enter the perimenopause years which can be up to 10 years before menopause, progesterone levels drop. In fact, progesterone drops much quicker than estrogen.
Progesterone is the calming hormone and is a natural anti-depressant. Progesterone stimulates the GABA receptors in the brain which is a calming neurotransmitter. Less progesterone can often mean anxiety, and more irritability especially in the week before your period.
Often, I find that during this period of a woman’s life, women describe those stressors that they would normally be able to handle suddenly feel like it is too much and they are thrown into overwhelm and feeling like they can’t cope. This can be especially hard when you are working, raising children and possibly also caring for aged parents.
Studies have been done and have shown that women who did not usually have anxiety often had increased anxiety levels during the transition from perimenopause to menopause. This just shows that hormones can really affect mental health and mood and need to be addressed to support women during this time.
Establishing a meditation practice is one of the most important areas for self-care.
I am a big advocate of know your numbers.
As women head into perimenopause, understanding your hormones, where they are at and where you need support is one of the most essential things you can do for you health.
In my coaching programs, I recommend the DUTCH test to fully understand your hormones and how best to support them. This test is the best test I have found to give you detailed information about your hormonal levels.
Your genes will also determine how your neurotransmitters and your hormones work especially when it comes to anxiety and depression.
In looking at depression for example, your genes will determine whether your depression is because your serotonin levels are too low, or perhaps serotonin is not being transported properly to the receptor site so that it can work as it should or is there something blocking the receptor?
Each one of the above scenarios would need a different treatment which is why knowing your genes and what your needs genes to support your health is a crucial step.
Poor sleep which is often associated with perimenopause and menopause can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and overwhelm so it can become a catch 22. Your feel more anxious and can’t sleep and also you can’t sleep which raises your anxiety.
To support good sleep, make sure you are getting back to basics:
- sleep in a dark room,
- ensure the room is the right temperature,
- use a weighted blanket
- use white noise
- keep the tv off
- keep electronics out of the bedroom.
- Try and Epsom salt bath before bed
Sometimes when you feel overwhelmed or anxiety levels are high, making sure you are having a healthy diet can fly out the window.
However, this is the time to make time for yourself and incorporate those healthy meals.
- Plan meals in advance
- Make use of frozen fruits and vegetables for added convenience
- Cook in batches so you can freeze and have left overs in the future
- Get an instant pot so meals can be made easily and quickly
- Keep up your water intake throughout the day
Manage Your Stress
There are some things we can control and others we can’t. When managing anxiety, look at the areas you can control your reaction to.
- Don’t plan too many things for your calendar
- Be ok sayings “I’ll let you know if I can make it”
- Say no to the things you don’t want to do (where possible of course)
- Limit the news you read or listen to (all the negativity can get overwhelming)
Anxiety may be a something many women experience but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. I encourage you to learn what your body needs as often it is a way of your body letting you know that it needs support.
Simone Burke is a Naturopathic and Functional Medicine Doctor located in Ontario, Canada. Simone also provides a unique coaching program to give you the best information on optimizing your hormone health.
Disclaimer Please note that content on this website is indented for informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. Do not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem.
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