Menopausal women at risk of anxiety

Menopausal women at risk of anxiety

The phase of menopause could be a rollercoaster ride for many women. It can be quite frustrating for a woman to deal with this phase since it can be difficult to even understand the reason behind the continually changing moods. There are a number of studies that explore the intricate relationship between menopause and anxiety.

Studies claim that by 2030, 1.2 million women all over the world will go through perimenopause or will be postmenopausal, while nearly 12-50 percent of women will experience mood swings during this period of life. In spite of the huge figures, the problem of mental issues associated with menopause is the most underrated disorder.

Many women get accustomed to living with anxiety, hardly ever mentioning about it till the situation worsens. Anxiety results from emotional as well as physiological changes. Looking at anxiety as mere sign of negative emotions and repressed inner conflict could only give a partial insight into the matter.

Rigorous scientific research has established the fact that anxiety has roots in the physiological factors, particularly in the time of menopause when hormones are topsy-turvy. Thus, it is equally critical to seek medical intervention for such conditions.

Biochemistry of perimenopausal anxiety

According to Sarah Mathews, M.D., N.C.M.P., University of Pennsylvania, anxiety is linked with dysregulation of the monoaminergic pathways in the central nervous system. Variations in estrogen levels during perimenopause can change the serotonergic and noradrenergic systems. This may be associated with mood alteration. At times, impaired gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor modulation related with hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis may also delay the stress response during menopausal stage, which, in turn, may aggravate anxiety levels.

It has been seen that women experience psychosomatic symptoms that are difficult to endure and incite anxiety. Perimenopause is a phase of transition and is marked by fluctuating reproductive hormones. Some of its characteristics are:

  • prolonged and heavy menstruation
  • irregular menstrual cycle
  • insomnia
  • decreased infertility

Psycho-social factors behind anxiety

“Stressors related to aging begin at perimenopause and tend to intensify with increasing age,” said Dr. Mathews. For a woman, menopause can be a difficult transitioning phase of life, wherein she might have to take care of aging parents, and growing children, despite undergoing an emotional and physical turmoil.

However, there may be other factors also that can contribute to menopausal anxiety, such as childlessness, bad coping skills, poor health, financial crunch or previous history of trauma. There are a number of ways to treat anxiety disorders during menopause. Doctors may use pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy or a combination of treatments as per a patient’s need and severity of the symptom.

Pharmacotherapy works through serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which are considered the best treatments for anxiety disorders. However, in case of older patients, prescribing medications can be a challenging task due to the presence of other medical conditions.

“Some women find hormone therapy preferable to psychiatric medication. Since menopausal symptoms can continue for even a few years following the final menstrual period, if a woman is experiencing no ill effects, I tend to wait before discontinuing,” Dr. Mathews said.

Seeking treatment

The reason behind the sudden onset of anxiety and depression in women during the menopausal phase could be hormonal imbalance, family loss, separation from children or some medical condition. Midlife crisis paves way for various problems that a woman finds difficult to cope with.

If you or your loved one is dealing with an anxiety disorder that demands immediate medical attention, call the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California to know about one of the best anxiety disorders treatment centers in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-972-9459 and seek the best anxiety disorders treatment in California.


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