According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American, from puberty to age 50, women are twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder as a man. This means that you’re the perfect age to experience perimenopause anxiety.
But, have you ever wondered why you struggle with these bothersome symptoms? Your brain chemistry is at least partially to blame. However, one of the biggest culprits behind perimenopause anxiety is your hormones. If you’re struggling with anxiety and your not sure why let’s explore a few things together.
It happened to me
Right around my fortieth birthday, I began struggling with symptoms of anxiety. I had never had an anxiety attack in my life but had been around countless people who fought with it. But, when it happens to you – it’s different.
In my car on the way to work is where it hit me first. I remember feeling totally out of control, which for a control-freak, isn’t a pleasant feeling. Shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, and free-flow of thoughts were my initial symptoms. Luckily I was close enough to work that I was able to safely get to the parking lot and allow things to settle. Afterward, I wondered if I would have handled this new, fun event if I hadn’t seen others go through it.
I knew what it was, but I can’t say that I truly understood why I was experiencing anxiety in my 40’s. After doing some research of my own and seeing my doctor, I learned that my hormones were likely to blame.
Blame it on the estrogen
Estrogen is a hormone that’s essential to the development of sexual and reproductive health in women. It’s produced mainly by your ovaries, but also comes from fat cells and the adrenal glands. It kick-starts puberty in young girls and plays a vital role in the development of your breasts, wider hips, and pubic hair. It regulates your menstrual cycle and affects your mood.
Have you ever thought about the fact that anxiety tends to show up in your life right around the same time as other hormonal shifts? Anxiety is common during and after pregnancy, around your periods, and of course during perimenopause. Over half of women between the ages of 40 and 55 report occasional nervousness, irritability, and tension. So, if you’re struggling with anxiety in your 40’s, it might be because of your estrogen levels.
How will I feel?
If you think you might be having an anxiety attack, but you’re not sure – here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Feeling a sense of danger, panic, or doom
- Nervousness, irritability or feeling edgy
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased breathing rate
- Feeling tired, weak, sweaty, or shaky
- Inability to concentrate
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Stomach problems
Living with anxiety
If you’re struggling with anxiety, you need to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Discuss methods to treat your anxiety and come up with a comprehensive plan. You might needs medications for your anxiety, but pills never have to be the only treatment for your symptoms. Here are a few other ways you can control your anxiety symptoms:
Decrease caffeine and alcohol
You might be surprised to know that both caffeine and alcohol can increase the frequency and severity of your anxiety symptoms. Caffeine is an “upper” and alcohol is a “downer,” but both can send you into an anxiety flare-up in no time. Try limiting your intake of both.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness that can lessen the grip of perimenopausal anxiety. Try meditating, deep breathing, or journaling. Go on a mindfulness walk and give your full attention to the sights and smells around you. A healthy habit of practicing mindfulness has been shown to lower stress and restore balance to your emotions.
Get enough sleep
Do you remember the last time you got a full 8-hours rest? If not, this could be adding to your, “why am I having anxiety in my 40’s” worries. Be sure to limit screen time before you catch some zzz’s and even kick the TV out of the bedroom. Stick with the same bedtime routine and schedule and keep your room on the cool side. This will all help you get the rest you need.
Getting plenty of exercise can elevate your mood and decrease your symptoms of anxiety in your forties. Choose exercises you enjoy to make it easier to stick to the plan. Shoot for 30 minutes of activity 3-5 times a day to keep your mind healthy.
There has been much research into essential oils and anxiety. These potent oils stimulate the receptors in your nose and send messages to your brain. Be sure to purchase all oils from a reputable distributor, since these oils are not regulated by the FDA. A few oils known for their relaxation properties include lavender, jasmine, and ylang-ylang. Try infusing these oils at night or rubbing them on pressure points to lessen your symptoms of perimenopause anxiety.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, try a few of these methods to lessen your symptoms and know that you’re not alone. While anxiety doesn’t get as much press these days as depression, it’s still a limiting condition that needs to be treated. Nothing will cure anxiety quickly, so you must be consistent in your practices. And, as always, seek the medical advice of a physician as soon as you notice new symptoms.