Can Peri-Menopause cause anxiety?
There are many different reasons as to why anxiety can increase during the menopause phase of life.
When you start to go through peri-menopause your hormones are fluctuating like a roller coaster and you get to go along for the ride. It all depends on you as an individual as we are all unique and some women don’t get any symptoms (how is that fair?)
Hormone imbalance is one of the main drivers of anxiety during peri-menopause, your two main hormones estrogen and progesterone start to decline. We need to ovulate to produce progesterone and because we are starting to skip periods your progesterone levels decrease. It’s your progesterone that is your feel good hormone that keeps you calm and relaxed. Because your progesterone is decreasing your fluctuating estrogen dominates. Estrogen is a stimulating hormone and it can increase your levels of anxiety.
Another hormonal change is when you get closer to menopause or the late stage of peri-menopause your oestrogen levels drop as the ovaries are getting ready to stop ovulating. This is a time when things can get really challenging, you may even feel like you are going a bit crazy. Your happy hormone called serotonin is affected as oestrogen helps increase your serotonin levels, with the drop in oestrogen, serotonin decreases, which can also contribute to anxiety.
Also sometimes you can struggle with this change of life and aging, weight gain, memory loss, brain fog and you can also have extra stresses such as aging parents, work, kids….life. All of this plus hormonal changes can make your life feel overwhelming sometimes.
These hormonal changes can also cause other peri-menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, joint pain, digestive issues, leaky bladder and low sex drive. If you just expect not being able to sleep because you know you are going to be woken by hot flushes or night sweats this can increase your anxiety, it can become a vicious cycle.
Gut health can also impact you during menopause, the decline in hormones directly affects the microbiome that breaks down estrogen. With less estrogen it can upset your microbiome, it’s a two way street between hormones and gut health.
during menopause can often be linked to imbalances of your gut caused by your hormones changing.
Anxiety causes your fight or flight NS (sympathetic NS) to stay turned on, so all of your energy is re-directed to your your arms and legs so you can run away from the perceived threat. The brain can’t tell the difference between a real or perceived threat. Your digestion slows down as your body tries to keep the energy being used for survival. This can also decrease your appetite and when we eat when we are anxious we eat quickly and not mindfully or we eat on the go because we are busy.
Nutrient deficiencies can be one of the main underlying causes of poor mental health that includes anxiety. Protein deficiency is common and is required for every cell in the body. If you have low stomach acid you may not be absorbing nutrients. Your body needs to produc neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain that you need for good mental health).
From a holistic perspective any unresolved feelings can manifest as anxiety, and during this phase of life it’s common for these to arise. You just need to remember that you are not your feelings and anxiety doesn’t define you.