How to calm menopause anxiety

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Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

18 July 2016

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’m going to talk about anxiety. And throughout the last few years when we’ve been answering, you know, hundreds of emails from women every week, anxiety has actually been the top third query. So this is a huge symptom in the menopause, and most women, at some point during the menopause, will actually experience it one way or another.

Why does it happen?

Now, why does it happen? Well, as usual, it’s more to do with the way our hormones are falling, and oestrogen in particular. Oestrogen is sort of our happy hormone. When we have plenty of oestrogen, it keeps our mood up, but when it starts to fall, in the menopause, then we can start to get the low mood, and the anxiety, and other feelings of stress as well.

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What can you do about it?

So what can you do about it? Well, there’s a number of things that you can actually do to control the anxiety.

Now, dehydration is a huge issue in the menopause. We all know about it. And especially if you are getting hot flushes and sweats, then the dehydration can be a contributing factor of both. So make sure that you’re drinking that water every day. It really is honestly one of the simplest things. And if you’re in the midst of an anxiety attack or a panic attack, actually drinking a big glass of water in one go, and I know it can be difficult, but it can sometimes actually stop the anxiety in its tracks. So it’s well worth trying if you get the opportunity.

Low blood sugar levels can be another thing that can trigger anxiety. You might find that you’re three quarters of the way through the afternoon, and you haven’t had much to eat for your lunch, maybe just a cup of tea or coffee mid-afternoon, and suddenly, just before 4 o’clock, you get a panic or an anxiety attack. So low blood sugar levels are another really common symptom of this. So make sure that you are eating little and often, and remember it has to be nice sensible snacks, so that would be a handful of nuts and seeds, maybe some dried fruit, or some plain yogurt.

And most of these, especially the dried fruit and the nuts and seeds, contain magnesium, and magnesium, again, is one of the best things for calming anxiety. So if you’re not already taking a magnesium supplement, then maybe look at taking a calcium and magnesium citrate supplement one tablet twice a day, and you might find that that kicks in very quickly at helping to calm all the anxiety down.

Remedies to help

You can look at herbs like Avena sativa. This is a very gentle remedy, doesn’t make you drowsy, but it helps to support and calm your nervous system. You can look at the flower essences. And if you find that your anxiety is about things that you feel you have no control over like what’s going on in the world or situations in your family that you feel that you can’t actually help with, then the flower essences work on calming the emotions and quietening those disturbing thoughts down. So maybe look at the relaxation essence or the mood essence.

Feeling low?

If you’re feeling low, as well as getting the anxiety or the panic attacks, then you can look at the herb Hypericum, as long as you are not on any other prescribed medication.

Remember to relax

Relaxation: remember how important this is. And you can bet that if you’re getting a lot of panic or anxiety attacks, you’re getting very, very little relaxation. So remember that 30 minutes me time every day, it’s so good for you in so many different ways in the menopause, and I really can’t stress enough how important it is.

Do some deep breathing, practice deep breathing. Just maybe breathe in very, very slowly to the count of four, hold for one, and then exhale for four, and then hold for one, and so on. And very often just practicing this, and once you get the hang of it, the minute you start to do the deep breathing, your nervous system knows that it’s going to get a little respite, and it can actually stop the anxiety and any panic attacks that might be manifesting themselves.

Go for a walk. Try and get out every day if you can. It really is good for your health generally. Even a 10-minute brisk walk round the block at lunchtime at your work can be really helpful at calming the anxiety. And as long as you’re not walking in a really polluted environment, you can actually practice the deep breathing as you’re doing your walking as well.

Keep a diary

The other thing that I really recommend for all sorts of menopause symptoms is to have a little diary, just get yourself a nice little book. If you are getting anxiety or panic attacks regularly, then write down the times that you get them, and you might actually find that there’s a pattern. You may well find that it is at 4 o’clock every afternoon, and then you might be able to tie that back to your afternoon cup of coffee, or maybe you haven’t had any water for a while, or it may well be that you’re just really, really hungry. So try that. That can be your homework for this week.

How long will it last?

Now, a lot of women ask me how long are these anxiety or panic attacks going to last. And to be honest, this is one of the really, really difficult questions. It is going to be a very individual thing. Some women in the menopause will get this maybe just for a few months, and that’s it. Other women might find they get them every now and again, and for some women, unfortunately, this actually becomes the norm. But looking after yourself well, having a good diet, having the water, having plenty of magnesium and relaxation can actually make a huge difference to these anxiety attacks as well.

Anxiety in the morning

Now, there’s a number of women that tend to get the anxiety in the morning only, and I know I’ve had that. And it’s absolutely horrible, because you wake up, and literally, before you’ve even got your feet out of your bed, your heart’s going, you’re getting anxious, and you’re starting to worry and panic about things.

This is very often due to getting totally dehydrated during the night. And again, there’s the big link between first morning anxiety and night sweats or hot flushes. So if this is you, then the water is extra important. And remember that little glass of warm water just before you go to bed, and you can also take one of your magnesium supplements with your evening meal, and that can help to calm everything down as well.

Until next week...

And just remember, try the diary, try the deep breathing, remember to do a little bit of walking, and hopefully, that will help to sort your anxiety. So if you have any questions on this or anything else, please do get in touch, and I will really look forward to seeing you next Monday for another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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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.

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