Managing Anxiety During Perimenopause

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Perimenopause is characterized by rapidly changing female hormones. This volatility of hormones typically brings erratic and irregular surges of anxiety. Anxiety may arise unpredictably, without any obvious cause or precipitating event. Women who have never suffered from anxiety before are at risk for experiencing it for the first time. Women who have experienced anxiety previously, will likely see it worsen.

Uncontrollable and unexplainable anxiety can wreak havoc in a woman’s life. Not only is anxiety disruptive to a woman’s sense of well-being, it can also present challenges at work, friction within her family and difficulty in managing friendships. Anxiety can disrupt sleep, interfere with healthy eating, disrupt a woman’s ability to maintain a healthy weight and cause increased susceptibility to illness.

Woman who have little or no understanding of why they are anxious are unable to explain it to those with whom they interact. This can result in raising anxiety in others, as they struggle for understanding of why their loved one is suffering. Any small event brings the potential for an overpowering sense of distress in a perimenopausal woman. Even an everyday trip to the grocery store or opening the mail can become an unmanageable event during the perimenopausal transition.

Women and their families need to be aware that anxiety can be expressed in many different ways, some more damaging than others. Anxiety is often expressed as nervousness or worry. When children are exposed to this, they may feel vulnerable and may adopt the worries of the parent. A more destructive expression of anxiety is that of anger or rage. When anxiety builds to unmanageable levels, a woman may find herself explosive and irrational. Clearly, this is confusing and damaging to those around her.

Thankfully, there are many ways women can manage their anxiety:

-Talk about your experience- Find support from those who care about you. Try opening up about what you are going through.

-Take “me” time- Take a break from your typical routine to do something pleasurable and relaxing. This is a time to nurture yourself.

-Improve your diet- Avoid anxiety-producing foods such as caffeine, simple sugars and carbohydrates. Add calming foods and beverages such as those rich in B vitamins, almonds, chamomile and soy.

-Experiment with eastern therapies- Yoga, meditation and acupuncture have been shown in research to decrease anxiety and improve perimenopausal symptoms, enabling women to feel more peaceful.

-Exercise- Regular aerobic exercise helps reduce anxiety and stress and improve mood.

-Talk with a therapist- Therapy helps women sort through their difficulties and find healthy ways to manage them. It also helps normalize many of the stresses that appear during this time of life.

-Explore Medication- When anxiety is unbearable, anxiolytic medication can provide much needed relief. Supplements can alleviate many symptoms of anxiety. Prescription medication may be a last resort, but can be extremely beneficial in supporting women’s struggles during this challenging time.

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