Menopausal anxiety is a common occurrence caused by a number of different factors, including estrogen deficiency, other menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes, sleep problems, and vaginal dryness), and negative feelings towards menopause. These can all lead to a chronic feeling of anxiety, which has some unpleasant side effects. If anxiety is not dealt with in the early stages, it can lead to an anxiety disorder, and so it is best to take steps to combat it as early as possible. Keep reading for natural ways to treat anxiety during menopause.
Anxiety: How to Treat it
Anxiety is a feeling of unease and is normally felt when faced with a distressing situation. It is productive in the short term, and for most people, it disappears after the event. However, being in a chronic state of anxiety can have a negative physical and psychological impact, such as depression, difficulty concentrating, and muscle tension. Below is a list of natural ways to relieve anxiety and its undesirable symptoms.
Exercise releases serotonin and endorphins, both neurotransmitters that elevate mood. It also has the extra benefit of improving sleep quality. Therefore, the effects of the sleep deprivation that anxiety leads to will also be resolved. At least thirty minutes of physical activity a day is recommended.
Stress intensifies anxiety and negative thought patterns. While this is easier said than done for those experiencing anxiety disorder, learning relaxation methods is essential for your mental and emotional health. Take about fifteen minutes or more every day to be alone and focus on relaxation techniques and positive self-talk.
Progressive muscle relaxation
After a few deep breaths, mentally scan your body and work out which areas are tense. After this, rotate your head once or twice in a smooth motion before rolling your shoulders forward and backwards a few times. Then, allow all your muscles to relax and recall a pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take a few more deep breaths and then breathe out.
Reversing the negative thinking that contributes to anxiety is very important. Every time you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, either about yourself or something else, counteract it with a positive statement - saying it out loud if possible. Additionally, if you find yourself being hard on yourself for something, imagine what you would say to a friend who found herself in that situation - it would probably be far kinder. Let yourself make mistakes, and be your own best friend. This positive mindset will eventually become a habit.
It could be helpful to take a natural herbal remedy to complement the positive lifestyle changes you are making. A couple of herbs shown to help with anxiety are:
St John's wort
This is often used to treat low mood. It is not entirely clear how this herb works, but it is thought to extend the action of serotonin in the brain. This is only effective for mild anxiety and must never be taken with other medications.
This plant is widely used for treating stress, insomnia, and anxiety. However, do not take this herb for more than a few weeks at any one time or at the same time as any sleep-inducing medications.
There are a variety of natural ways to treat menopausal anxiety, and many women find that these are enough to stave off the condition. If, however, you feel that the anxiety has reached the point of becoming a disorder, a doctor must be consulted, although carrying on with the aforementioned lifestyle changes will still be beneficial alongside any medical treatment prescribed.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2014). Tips to Manage Stress and Anxiety. Retrieved July 23, 2014, from http://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress
- Harvard Gazette. (2012). Estrogen and female anxiety. Retrieved July 23, 2014, from http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/08/estrogen-and-female-anxiety/
- Love, S. & Lindsey, K. (2003). Dr. Susan Love's Menopause & Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press.
- National Health Service UK. (2013). Stress, anxiety and depression: Why do I feel panicky? Retrieved July 23, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Page/understanding-panic.aspx
- Office on Women's Health. (2010). Menopause and mental health. Retrieved July 23, 2014, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/ menopause-mental-health/
- Thacker, H.L. (2009). The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause. New York: Kaplan Publishing.