“I cackle remembering that I once thought I’d sail through menopause. My anxiety has now gone totally bonkers.”
Anxiety around menopause is common. So are low moods and mood swings. Symptoms that affect your mood and mind can be the most difficult to manage. Some people describe this as a switch that just flicks. Going from social and happy one minute, to the next feeling really sad or in a fog with nothing to say. Menopause can be emotionally distressing, but remember that this is typical and not abnormal (1).
Some women experience anxiety for the first time in their lives through menopause anxiety. Others suddenly experience mood swings and bursts of anger.
Let’s go over what causes these changes and a few tips for managing your emotional fitness. Know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel—surveys have found that two-thirds of women reported feeling happier after menopause than before (2).
Why does menopause cause anxiety and other mood-related symptoms?
During perimenopause—the time before your final menstrual period—hormones fluctuate in a downward trend. By the time you reach menopause, ovarian production of oestrogen has stopped. This decline in hormones will affect your moods, as hormones play an important role in mood regulation.
Oestrogen coordinates other hormones that are responsible for mood and sleep regulation—including serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. Progesterone is linked to a feeling of wellbeing, often giving us a sense of relaxation or calm before sleep.
Lower levels of oestrogen can also affect your moods and energy levels indirectly. Symptoms such as night sweats can lead to poor sleep, fatigue, and anxiety at work. Additionally, thinking about ageing and infertility around this time can be emotionally difficult.
It’s important to note that severe anxiety, persistent low moods, and panic attacks aren’t normal symptoms of menopause. You should consult your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. Talking to a doctor who understands menopause helps to determine the difference between menopause-related mood symptoms and clinical anxiety or depression.
What can I do about menopause anxiety and other mood-related symptoms?
Good news—you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are lots of things you can do to improve your menopause anxiety and moods.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) works by replacing the oestrogen that your body stops producing during menopause. It’s been linked to improved mood and reduced anxiety.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) are also effective for improving thought patterns and can be done online or through the NHS.
Don’t underestimate the importance of keeping a healthy lifestyle and having the support of those around you when trying to stay emotionally fit. Keep an eye on your nutrition and make sure you get enough rest. Other self-care activities—like yoga or journaling—have also been shown to improve mood.
Having someone to talk to about menopause reduces feelings of loneliness, too. Meet other women experiencing similar feelings and speak to menopause specialists through Bia Care—try our free questionnaire.