An introduction to difficulty concentration and the menopause
Many menopausal women find that they have difficulty in concentration.
It is a tricky symptom to define and understand, as usually its signals and signs are subtle. Women experiencing the problem feel that they have more difficulty than usual focussing on a task, are more likely to forget simple things such as the time of an appointment, and generally feel as if they have a foggy mind.
This is frustrating for many women, and for those around them, particularly when concentration has never been a problem before. Many women also worry that it is the first indication of a long-term memory condition such as Alzheimer’s Disease. In the majority of cases this is not so, and the symptom resolves once they’re through the menopause.
Why does menopause cause concentration difficulties?
A menopausal woman may find that she has difficulty concentrating for a host of reasons and often the exact cause is unclear. Hormonal fluctuation is often accredited with much of the blame. This is because the hormones have a strong link with neurotransmitters in the brain, and so when hormonal levels are low, brain function can be affected in subtle ways. These hormones, particularly oestrogen, also encourage blood flow in the brain to keep it functioning at its optimum.
The menopause can also cause you to have difficulty sleeping. Not being able to sleep at night has a significant negative impact on your ability to concentrate the next day. If you have an ongoing sleep problem, chances are high that you will develop concentration issues during the day.
Stress also plays an important role in concentration levels. Stress levels in menopausal women are known to be higher. This takes up a lot of mental energy, leaving less ability to concentrate. By learning how to handle or decrease stress, you may find that you are able to concentrate better again.
What home remedies are there for concentration difficulties?
As there is no clear reason why the menopause makes concentration difficult, finding a solution can be problematic. However, there is a variety of home remedies that you could implement to boost your concentration.
- Be careful what you eat and drink – some foods, such as fish, soy and fruit and vegetables are shown to improve mental function. Other foods such as those containing refined sugar or caffeine can have the opposite effect to that which you desire. Drinking plenty of water is vital for hydrating the brain, and reducing your alcohol intake will go a long way towards improving your mental function
- Take food supplements – there are some supplements which are thought to improve mental function. Examples are Vitamin B or soya isoflavones
- Keep your brain active – mind games such as Sudoku and crosswords prevent your brain from becoming lazy. It stimulates new connections in the brain and should help you improve concentration levels
- Get a good night’s sleep – it is vital to sleep well at night. If you are tired during the day your ability to concentrate will rapidly decrease
- Stress less – while this is easier said than done, being able to remove stress during your day will help you sleep better at night and be one less thing to worry about during the day. Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
Are there herbal remedies to help me?
Many menopausal women find the most effective means of building up their concentration levels is to take herbal remedies alongside implementing some home remedies. This is the most natural way of treating the symptom and so is likely to have the most lasting effect.
- Ginkgo biloba - this is probably our oldest medicinal herb, dating back to 3000 BC. It improves blood circulation and as a result, mental function. One of its common names is ‘memory tree’
- Concentration Essence – this is a Jan de Vries flower essence remedy. It is formulated to boost concentration
- If Stress is a problem, use a valerian based product such as A.Vogel’s Stress Relief Valerian-Hops drops.
What about conventional medicine?
As difficulty concentrating during the menopause is usually a symptom which improves once through this phase of life, there are few medicines which your doctor will be able to prescribe specifically for this symptom.
Your doctor may ask you to consider treatment using HRT if hormonal changes are the root of your problem. It is important to understand the benefits and side-effects of this treatment.
If your concentration difficulties are the result of some other condition such as stress or sleep problems, then treating the underlying condition will in turn improve concentration.
If you are worried about your health or notice that you are forgetting events from the past then it is important to seek medical advice.