The link between menopause and anxiety is real, with up to 51% of women between the ages of 40 and 55 years old reporting anxiety symptoms. There is so much going on at this time—life stress, hormonal changes, and the challenges of coping with this major transition. All of this can lead to feelings of anxiousness.
Before we go any further, if you are struggling with anxiety symptoms—restlessness, exhaustion, irritability, difficulty concentrating—you don’t have to go through this alone. There are resources available that can help you.
If you feel comfortable, reach out to someone you trust. Simple connection can go a very long way.
Your Peanut community is also there to help. Challenging times are better navigated together.
In this article: 📝
- The link between anxiety and menopause
- What does menopause anxiety feel like?
- Hot flashes and menopause anxiety
- Can menopause cause extreme anxiety?
- Are menopause and panic attacks linked?
- Does anxiety from menopause go away?
The link between anxiety and menopause
In the buildup to this moment—aka perimenopause—it’s common to experience a range of symptoms as our bodies adjust to this post-period period.
Some of the more infamous symptoms are hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and digestive woes.
But does perimenopause cause anxiety? To answer this, it’s important to explore the many different ways in which we can experience anxiety.
What does menopause anxiety feel like?
Anxiety differs slightly from fear because it is usually a response to a threat that is not yet with you.
It’s the anticipation of a scary event rather than a response to the event itself.
We’ve all felt anxious at some points in our lives. Big changes, important decisions, and worries about our well-being and that of others can all contribute to these feelings.
And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Anxiety is a natural bodily response to a potentially stressful situation.
Thank goodness we have it, as it’s historically allowed us to alert ourselves to danger and, where possible, remove ourselves from threatening situations.
But sometimes, anxiety can become overwhelming and get in the way of day-to-day life.
When it gets like this, physical symptoms—including headaches, nausea, and sleep disturbances—can also accompany it.
If you are experiencing feelings of excessive anxiety and intrusive thoughts that don’t seem to go away, you might be struggling with an anxiety disorder that requires treatment.
Can menopause cause anxiety?
Menopause and anxiety are linked in a few complex ways. While it’s still up for debate whether menopause might cause anxiety, there are so many reasons you might experience anxiety during this time:
Estrogen can have a calming effect on women, and when estrogen decreases during menopause, the absence of this calming effect can lead to anxiety.
Menopause means that getting pregnant may no longer be a possibility.
If getting pregnant is something that you still want to do in your life, this reality can feel quite devastating—and it’s common to be feeling symptoms of depression and anxiety.
We know. This is tough. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Typical menopause years also coincide with many other challenges—careers, families, health, and fears of getting older all come into play.
It’s totally understandable that you might be feeling more anxious than you were before.
Hot flashes and menopause anxiety
One interesting facet of menopause anxiety is that it might be one of the causes of hot flashes.
This study showed that women who experienced the most anxiety were also the most likely to experience hot flashes, and that often the anxiety preceded the hot flashes.
Can menopause cause extreme anxiety?
The short answer is it’s complicated.
As the North American Menopause Society tells us, there is little scientific backing for the idea that menopause causes serious mental health disorders, like clinical depression and anxiety disorders.
According to this study, those who suffer from high anxiety before going through menopause are not likely to have their anxiety increase over this chapter.
Those who previously suffered from low anxiety, on the other hand, may be more likely to experience high anxiety over this time.
If you have feelings of extreme anxiety or your symptoms are not going away, it’s important to get treatment.
This is not one of those things that you have to just survive through.
Are menopause and panic attacks linked?
Women are twice as likely to have panic attacks as men.
Panic attacks are surges of intense fear that don’t appear to be attached to an external cause.
They cause a physical reaction, increasing your heart rate, affecting your breathing, and possibly causing you to break out into a sweat.
They can be really scary and could make you feel as though you are having a heart attack.
Panic disorder is the recurrence of panic attacks, often accompanied by a debilitating fear that they will occur.
There does seem to be a link between menopause and panic attacks in that they occur frequently in postmenopausal women.
But, while panic attacks may arrive on the scene at the same time as menopause, they are not a common symptom.
Check in with your doctor so that you can get the help you need.
Does anxiety from menopause go away?
The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Some women find that their feelings of anxiety decrease once their hormones balance out post-menopause.
But you don’t have to just wait in hope. There is help available.
Here are some options that might be appropriate for you.
What helps anxiety during menopause?
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is proving effective as a helping hand through this transition period.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). There is some evidence to suggest that HRT may help with symptoms of anxiety and depression. Talk to your doctor about whether this would be appropriate for you.
- Anti-anxiety medication. You may be prescribed anti-anxiety medication by your doctor. Recent research has shown that these may also be effective in the treatment of hot flashes.
Other ways to help:
- Exercise. Anything from a gentle nature walk to a HIIT workout. You do you.
- Eat a nutritious, balanced diet. A healthy menopause diet can work wonders.
- Do what you love. You have full license to immerse yourself in your favorite things. Paint, chat, dance, explore.
- Connect with others. Seriously. Nothing like it.
We know this can be tough. We’re rooting for you.
📚 More on menopause:
Introducing, Peanut Menopause
What Happens During Menopause?
How to Deal With Menopause
How Long Does Menopause Last?
Unusual Menopause Symptoms You Might Not Know
What are the Signs Perimenopause is Ending?
Menopause Fatigue: What to Know and What to Do
What to Do About Menopause Bloating
Evening Primrose Oil & Menopause: What’s the Story?
What Are The Benefits of Progesterone After Menopause?