Crying, fear and worry – what's causing these emotions?

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Menopause Advisor
@EileenDurward
Ask Eileen


23 January 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I talk about crying, fear and worry. Now, do you find yourself crying a lot? Do you find that you’re crying at absolutely nothing? Do you find that you’re getting really deep worry? You’re worrying about things that you never worried about before or are you starting to get fearful of things that are happening in your life and around you?

Now, this is one of the more distressing symptoms of the menopause because this can come on suddenly. These feelings can come on without warning. They can really, really take you by surprise, especially if you’re at work or you’re around other people, it can be very embarrassing if you start to get very, very emotional. Now, usually this is caused by the way that your hormones are actually falling. It’s mainly to do with low oestrogen.

Your hormones during menopause

Now, in the menopause, your hormones don’t always fall nice and gently and in harmony with each other and oestrogen, especially, it can go up and down like a yo-yo. And at some point, you can get a spike and then you can get a really steep drop, and that’s the point where the drop of oestrogen can actually affect your emotions and cause these outbursts. Now, a lot of women find that they just suddenly get really affected by something that they will cry about nothing, or they actually find that they start crying about things that they never actually used to worry about before, or they cry for no reason. You can just suddenly find yourself crying.

I remember once actually finding myself in the shower absolutely sobbing my heart out. It was deep sobs. I couldn’t stop and I felt this profound sense of sorrow. It was almost like the world was about to end, and I just couldn’t actually do anything about it. And I remember thinking once eventually I’d stopped crying, it was like, “What on earth was that about?” Because there was no trigger. There was no apparent reason for it, but you know, it can be really, really horrible when it actually gets to that particular level.

I also know that one of my friends had to stop watching the news and reading newspapers because she just cried at absolutely everything, regardless of whether it was happy or bad news. Now, some women actually find that they get more upset by other people. They get more upset by what other people are saying, and that can make them cry. They take things to heart. Or, very often, you actually get hold of the wrong end of the stick about what people are saying and end up crying and you can get really upset about all sorts of social situations.

Fear

There’s also fear, and this is quite a big one. You can suddenly start to feel fearful about your future, about the future of the world. You can fear about what’s going to happen to your family, that something awful is actually going to happen. Now, this is one of these situations that very often you will find it kicks in just as you’re becoming awake in the morning. And there is actually a real reason for this, you’re not sort of imagining all of this.

When you’re asleep, especially in the early hours of the morning, the ancient part of your brain is actually still ticking over, because as life was developing, the brain of the creatures that were there had to still be aware of their environment in case they were going to get attacked or something was going to happen. There’s always a little part of your brain that has a little bit of awareness of what’s going on.

And unfortunately, when you just certainly start to wake up, if these fears or worries kick in, then that part of the brain will go into a total panic. It will magnify everything. It will see absolutely everything as a threat. And you can then get caught up in this fear and anxiety and panic until your kind of modern-day, rational brain kicks in and then goes, “Oh no, it’s actually time to get up.” So there is a real reason for this particular one.

Worry, worry, worry

Some women find that they just worry a lot more, that they worry about things that they never used to worry about. They might start worrying about what people are saying about them, what people are thinking about them. You might start worrying about being five minutes late for work when before, it was never an issue. You might start really worrying about how you look, about what your appearance is like, how you’re talking. There can be a whole range of issues where you just start worrying for no reason.

You can also get into this situation where you start worrying about what might happen in a scenario. It’s almost like you make up a little story in your head of what’s going to happen, and it’s always something negative that’s going to happen, and this story can go round and round in your head. That will pull you down even further and it can also take up a lot of your time when you could actually be thinking about more positive things as well.

Severe hormonal flux

Now, there are few women for whom this hormonal flux can be really, really severe. And it’s not just a case of crying or worry or fearing but they can find that they can get severely depressed. They can get down to feeling really bleak, this sort bleakness of their life, or they may actually find that they just don’t want to carry on. Now, if this is you or you know anyone else who’s going through the menopause who is feeling like this, it’s really important to get this checked out by the doctor, purely because this hormonal change can be so great that, you know, over-the-counter remedies and home help isn’t going to do anything, and they might actually need some kind of medical support.

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What can you do?

Now, what can you do in this situation? What can you do to help yourself? Well, one of the easiest things to do, if it’s appropriate for you, is just to try and balance your oestrogen a little bit. So you could look at things like our Menopause Support or you could look at herbs such as Black Cohosh. And these help to very gently balance and even out your oestrogen so you’re not getting the big yo-yo effect. Look at magnesium and B vits. Your nervous system is already under pressure, and if you’re low in these nutrients, then your nervous system can get even more trigger-happy, and this can cause a lot of the problems as well.

Dehydration

You know, every single week I talk about water. But, especially if you are getting hot flushes and night sweats very often, this kind of emotional distress comes along with the hot flushes and the night sweats. It’s because you’re getting dehydrated. And if you’re getting the fearfulness or the extra anxiety and worry just as you wake up in the morning, that’s a good indication that you’re possibly dehydrated during the night. So remember that little shot glass of warm water just before you go to bed.

You are not going mad!

Now, the one thing to take away from this is, this is not all in your head. You are not going mad. You are not making it up. There is a real physical, hormonal reason for this. This is really happening. And you know, I get so many women who really think that they’re falling over the edge and that there is something serious wrong with their mental state. This is just the way your hormones happen to be falling so that there is a real reason for this.

The important thing here is to tell your friends and family what’s going on. There’s nothing worse than, you know, somebody seeing their Mum or partner suddenly bursting into tears or running out the door or shutting themselves away in the bathroom for half an hour. Just let them know that there is a real reason for this. And the great thing is, that this is usually just a phase. It’s part and parcel of the menopause. Most women will experience these symptoms at some point, but you’ll get through it. Once your hormones start to re-balance themselves, you should find that the episodes become less and less.

So I hope this is giving you a little bit of insight into a very fascinating but also distressing aspect of the menopause. And I will look forward to seeing you next week for another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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Here's what I recommend

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

Learn the truth behind other menopause myths

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