Thursday, January 26, 2017

Are Menopause Symptoms Made Worse by Anxiety?

The symptoms of menopause can be distressing for many women. From the hot flashes to insomnia, the severity of the symptoms can affect their quality of life. If we already know that anxiety can make symptoms of any condition worse, does that mean if a woman is anxious, will she experience more drastic menopause symptoms? According to a study published in the journal Menopause, yes, it does.

The study looked at data from 3,503 women who were post menopausal. The researchers found that 61.9% were depressed and that 13.7% of the women reported a severe impairment in their quality of life; 25.5% mentioned severe urogenital symptoms (vaginal dryness and urinary incontinence) and 18.5% said they had severe psychological symptoms.

So what does that mean practically? The researchers concluded that screening of women undergoing menopause is important, but it's also important for women themselves to be aware of this possibility. If you do have anxiety or you have started to feel symptoms that make you believe that you're getting increasingly anxious, there are some steps you can take on your own to try to reduce the anxiety. These include things like meditation, mindfulness, exercising regularly, and keeping a journal, for example. Of course, professional help and guidance from a counsellor or therapist may be more appropriate.

Whichever steps you take, it's important to understand that you're not alone. According to a press release discussing the study:

"Although anxiety is a common symptom during menopause, panic attacks are not," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. "This study documents the importance of screening patients for anxiety. If women are having significant anxiety, they should discuss viable treatment options with their healthcare providers. These can include relaxation techniques, caffeine reduction, and exercise. Estrogen therapy or other mood medications might also prove helpful.

Have you gone through menopause? How have you found the process?

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