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Menopause and Anxiety: What’s the Link?

When perimenopause starts, many people develop anxiety or depression. However, if a person frequently, or severely experiences anxiety or panic attacks, they should speak with a medical expert. Keep reading to learn more about the link between menopause and anxiety.

By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: January 16, 2023

Difference Between Anxiety and Depression – Menopause and Anxiety

Anxiety and depression difference: The fact that one term denotes a single sickness while the other denotes a collection of ailments is a significant distinction between anxiety and depression.

In reality, depression is one illness. There are numerous distinct symptoms (see below). And different people may experience it very differently. However, the term “depression” only refers to one illness.

The word “anxiety” can indicate a number of different things. We all experience anxiety occasionally, and the word “anxiety” can be used to describe that feeling simply. However, when we use the word anxiety in a medical context, it actually refers to anxiety disorder.

Some less frequent conditions are included under anxiety. These include panic disorders and phobias. However, generalized anxiety disorder is the most prevalent (GAD). In the US, a generalized anxiety disorder may affect four to five out of every 100 persons. In this post, we’ll concentrate on generalized anxiety.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

According to The National Institute on Mental Health, periodic anxiety is a standard component of life. When faced with a challenge at work, before a test, or before making a crucial decision, you could experience anxiety. However, anxiety disorders involve more than just passing apprehension or terror.

Anxiety and depression difference: It’s critical to get anxiety treatment as soon as possible since, for someone with an anxiety condition, the anxiety does not go away and can worsen over time. The symptoms might affect daily tasks like work performance, academic progress, and interpersonal connections. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders are only a few of the several types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety and depression difference: People with a generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive Anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about many things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. Fear and Anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work. 

What is Depression?

Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It produces severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis, including sleeping, eating, and working. The signs of depression must last for at least two weeks before a diagnosis may be made.

Depression treatment is required when depressive symptoms are chronic and do not go away since some types of depression are slightly different or may arise in unusual situations.

Types of Depression

  • Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia): is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major Depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered a persistent depressive disorder.
  • Psychotic Depression: occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
  • Bipolar disorder: is different from Depression, but it is included in this list because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major Depression (called “Bipolar Depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
  • Postpartum Depression: is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with postpartum Depression experience full-blown major Depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or their babies.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: is characterized by the onset of Depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This Depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter Depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
  • SAD Seasonal Depression (Depressed SAD): A form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered by the changing of the seasons; it starts and ends about at the same periods each year. If you have SAD like the majority of people do, your symptoms begin in the fall and last through the winter, draining your energy and making you cranky. Typically, these symptoms go away in the spring and summer. SAD less frequently results in depression in the spring or early summer and clears up in the fall or winter. SAD treatment options include medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy (phototherapy).

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Anxiety Fact Sheet

Anxiety Overview

A mental health condition marked by intense feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that interferes with daily activities. Panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are a few examples of anxiety disorders.
The inability to put aside worry, restlessness and stress that is out of proportion to the severity of the incident are among the symptoms.
Counseling or medicine, including antidepressants, are used as forms of treatment.

Anxiety Symptoms

Behavioral: hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.

Cognitive: lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.

Whole body: fatigue or sweating

Also common:  anxiety, excessive worry, angor animi, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling

Anxiety Treatment

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Anxiety Statistics

It’s critical to understand the distinction between anxiety and depression. Anxiety, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worry, whereas depression, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It is conceivable for someone to experience depression and anxiety simultaneously.

6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

19 million

19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it the most common anxiety disorder in America.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Does Menopause Cause Anxiety? Menopause Anxiety

Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.
Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.

Can Menopause Cause Anxiety? Anxiety Menopause

Menopausal anxiety: One typical menopausal symptom is anxiety. Anxiety may be brought on at this time by hormonal changes, daily worries, and sleep issues.

After 12 months without menstruation, menopause begins. Before the last menstrual cycle or perimenopause, the body goes through a significant physical change.

When perimenopause starts, many people develop anxiety or depression. However, if a person frequently, or severely experiences anxiety or panic attacks, they should speak with a medical expert.

The relationship between anxiety and menopause is discussed in this article, along with management strategies.

Anxiety During Menopause: Anxiety And Menopause

Anxiety in menopause: According to a 2020 study conducted in Brazil, 58% of perimenopausal women between the ages of 45 and 55 reported having anxiety symptoms. 62% of participants in the same research showed signs of depression.

A more extensive study conducted in China in 2016 indicated that anxiety was prevalent among women between the ages of 45 and 60, while depression affected roughly 26% of the population.

Anxiety symptoms may be triggered by menopause’s hormonal changes. Notably, variations in estrogen levels might have an effect.

Anxiety can be brought on by further menopause-related changes. For instance, 40–50% of people go through the menopausal transition with sleep issues or sleeplessness. Anxiety can lead to sleep problems, and sleep problems can lead to anxiety.

Anxiety may also be brought on by external factors and big life changes during the menopausal years. Children leaving the house, for instance, may result in separation anxiety. As menopause approaches, a person could experience anxiety as well.

Menopause Depression Anxiety

Menopause anxiety and depression: For some women, the menopause transition can be a difficult time. Your period slows down or stops altogether due to a sudden decline in hormone levels, and some other unfun symptoms, including hot flushes, start to appear. But those modifications might also have an impact on the brain’s chemical composition and, consequently, your mood.

According to psychiatrist Lilian Gonsalves, MD, the changes in hormone levels that occur in your body throughout perimenopause and menopause may occasionally make you feel nervous or melancholy. However, persistent, severe anxiety, depression, and panic attacks are not typical.

Menopause Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety can lead to physical symptoms such as:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • The feeling of sickness or nausea
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Fast breathing
  • Panic attacks – these are severe attacks of anxiety, fear, and panic that occur suddenly, often without warning, and for no apparent reason

Menopause And Anxiety Attacks

You feel as if you are having a nervous breakdown or a heart attack as your hands shake, your chest heaves, and you start to perspire and get cold. You experience a loss of control and disconnection from reality. (Remember that heart attack pain typically feels like a pressure or squeezing sensation that can radiate outward to the jaw, shoulder blades, or arm.) Chest pain from a panic attack typically feels like a sharp or stabbing, localized pain in the mid-chest area.

But if you suddenly feel very worried, especially if you’re going through menopause, it could be a panic attack. You’re not alone either. Many women in their menopausal years are riding that emotional roller coaster with them, and it’s going to be a rocky trip.

Unexpected panic attacks can occur at any time, whether while you’re asleep, watching television, in the mall, in the middle of a business meeting, or even while you’re driving.

What is the most likely cause of this adrenaline rush, which is your body’s “flight or fight” reaction to danger (even though there is none this time)? fluctuating progesterone and estrogen levels

It’s no surprise that so many women experience panic attacks around this time when you take into account that menopause ushers in other life changes that can increase your risk of developing them, such as sleep issues, concerns about your body image, shifting relationships, the loss of fertility, and a generalized decreased sense of wellbeing.

You may be more susceptible to experiencing panic attacks during the menopause years if you have ever been anxious or have had PMS or postpartum depression. One of the reasons that panic attacks can be unpleasant is that they can be difficult to diagnose because many of their symptoms, such as anxiety, sweating, and palpitations, already resemble those of menopause or perimenopause.

However, when you’re the one living through it, you’re unwilling to believe that dribble—and you swear they’ll never end. Despite the fact that many specialists concur that as your hormones level out and your life gets in the order you’ll find relief. Yet they still do. Here are some coping strategies for those 10 to 30 minutes of misery that seem to last forever.

Recognize that everything will be fine. According to Sanam Hafeez, PsyD, a psychologist with a New York City address and a teaching faculty member at Columbia University Teacher’s College, “No one ever died from a panic attack.” Even if you may feel like you want to or might die, she assures you that “it simply won’t happen.”

Ryan Zofay forming a circle and hugging friends.

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Anxiety And Menopause Tingling

Some women report tingling in their hands, feet, arms, and legs after menopause. This symptom, which usually only lasts for a few minutes at a time, is brought on by hormonal changes that impact the central nervous system.

Can Menopause Cause Anxiety And Heart Palpitations?

Menopause symptoms, which might include hot flushes, exhaustion, palpitations, muscle soreness, lethargy, poor concentration, depression, anxiety, vaginal dryness, and occasionally urine incontinence, are common among women. These will differ greatly from person to person and may change.

How Long Does Menopause Anxiety Last?

The typical duration of perimenopausal symptoms is four years, though this can vary from woman to woman. But when your hormone levels balance out, the symptoms will go away.

Menopause has some form of effect on the mental health of about 70% of women. The good news is that after the body adjusts to the new hormone levels, these symptoms frequently disappear. There are numerous things you may do to take care of yourself and seek professional assistance.

Post Menopause Symptoms Anxiety (Post Menopause Anxiety Symptoms)

Post menopause anxiety: During menopause, hormone changes can have an effect on both your physical and emotional health. You can feel anxious, stressed out, or even depressed. Anger and irritation are possible menopausal symptoms.

Menopause And Anxiety At Night

Cortisol levels have been found to rise at night during menopause, which may contribute to an increase in stress and anxiety symptoms. In addition, cortisol levels rise just after a hot flush, which can cause a woman to feel “on alert” throughout the night and make it challenging to fall asleep again.

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Menopause Anxiety Treatment

What To Take For Menopause Anxiety? Menopause Anxiety Medication

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and other therapies for menopause symptoms are frequently given to persons going through menopause. In certain circumstances, treating hormone abnormalities might lessen the symptoms of anxiety.

To address anxiety, though, doctors may also suggest antianxiety drugs and psychotherapy. Drugs used to treat anxiety include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Buspirone
You could experience anxiety about commonplace occurrences like commuting to work or even going to sleep.
You could experience anxiety about commonplace occurrences like commuting to work or even going to sleep.

Menopause Anxiety Supplements

  • St John’s Wort: appears to be effective in treating anxiety during menopause but it can interfere with other medication so it is important to speak with your doctor before taking it according to the latest RCOG guidance.
  • Vitamin D: Research has shown that oral vitamin D sprays outperform tablet absorption as they deliver it straight to the bloodstream.
  • Black Cohosh: may increase estrogen levels helping to balance the feel-good hormones serotonin and friends.
  • Valerian Root: contains phytoestrogenic components and sedative elements which may help with anxiety and hot flushes
  • Passionflower: raises the chemical GABA which makes you feel more relaxed and reduces anxiety by decreasing brain activity. Check with your GP first as it may impact on other medicines such as blood thinners or sedatives.
  • Agnus Castus: helps to stabilize the fluctuating hormone levels which add to feelings of anxiety
  • Siberian Ginseng: works on improving the function of the adrenal glands, suppressing the production of cortisol.
  • AvenaCalm (A. Vogel) and Viridian’s L-theanine & Lemon Balm Supplement: claim to help with menopausal anxiety.

It’s essential that you talk to your doctor as supplements can have side effects, impact the function of prescription medications/or have time limits on how long you can take them.

Natural Remedies For Menopause Anxiety

Doctors think that some lifestyle modifications, such as eating a healthy, balanced diet, can lessen panic episodes and menopause symptoms. These consist of:

  • Exercising
  • Reducing caffeine intake
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Having acupuncture treatment
  • Getting good, consistent sleep
  • Participating in support groups

The importance of taking time for oneself cannot be overstated. Yoga, gardening, reading, meditation, and other self-care practices are all effective ways to put one’s attention on oneself and induce feelings of relaxation and well-being.

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The definition of dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) can differ between institutions.  However, it is generally described as the specific treatment of someone who has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time. Treating dual-diagnosis clients is a critical aspect of our inpatient treatment experience because co-occurring disorders are strongly correlated with instances of substance abuse.

Creating a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of withdrawal, the psychological connection with drug use, and managing underlying mental health disorders is part of setting clients up for success.  A thorough mental health analysis identifies possibilities for treatment.  Meeting with mental health counselors and medical care providers means access to behavioral therapy and medication treatment. At our dual diagnosis treatment center, We Level Up can implement the highest quality of care. 

We recognize the fragile complexities of how mental and substance abuse disorders can influence others and sometimes result in a vicious cycle of addiction.  That’s why we offer specialized treatment in dual-diagnosis cases to provide the most excellent chance of true healing and long-lasting recovery.

It can be challenging to accept that you may be living with a mental illness, but once it is properly diagnosed and treated, treating the presenting case of substance abuse can be magnitudes easier. Only a properly trained medical professional can diagnose these underlying conditions.  If you believe you are suffering from a disorder alongside addiction, we urge you to seek a qualified treatment center to begin your journey to recovery. Call We Level Up today.

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