In this post, we look at the increased anxiety and low mood that can occur in menopause and perimenopause.
Most of the symptoms you associate with menopause tend to be the physical ones – hot flashes, weight gain, fatigue, etc.
But the symptoms that tend to take women to the doctor are the mental ones –
- mood swings
- low mood
- feelings of sadness
- low self-esteem/confidence
- low motivation
Because these symptoms are the ones that make us feel like we are losing ourselves-our identity.
You know that multi-tasking, confident boss lady who can juggle work, home, kids and a heavy social life without thinking about it.
The person who, by the time we are 40, we have grown to be, we know who we are, what we are capable of and what we want.
Then, our body takes the legs from under us, and we face a sort of grief as we believe we might never find her again.
So why anxiety and low mood in menopause?
We are producing lower levels of our hormones.
Estrogen – Helps regulate Serotonin- a neurotransmitter and one of our feel-good chemicals.
Also, estrogen levels can fluctuate dramatically, unlike our other hormones, which decline more steadily, leading us to ride a rollercoaster of emotions: anger one minute, sobbing the next.
Progesterone – our keep calm hormone; it promotes relaxation and improves our mood, so low levels can lead to anxiety
Testosterone- keeps us motivated, optimistic and confident; it generally makes you feel bright.
If you suffer badly from PMS, then you are more likely to encounter symptoms of mood swings, irritability, anger, tearfulness,
The mood changes that occur with menopause are absolutely down to hormonal changes.
It’s also possible they’re brought on by other life stresses that occur around menopause.
Empty nesting, caring for ageing parents, and concerns about their own ageing may also increase stress for women.
So what do we do?
Let’s start with that feel-good neurotransmitter-Serotonin, and once again, we need to look at our gut health.
And I know I speak about this ALL the time, but most (95%) of our Serotonin is manufactured in our gut by our gut bacteria.
So, good gut health is needed to keep your serotonin levels optimized.
We can eat foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to Serotonin. Foods include –
- Milk & Cheese
- Turkey & Chicken
- Canned Tuna
- Nuts & Seeds
- Whole wheat bread
- Dark chocolate
- Fruits such as bananas, & apples
SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are a type of anti-depressant.
Typically, neurons re-absorb Serotonin; SSRIs block this function, meaning you make more new Serotonin.
It’s a bit like the difference between a brand-new ink cartridge and a refurbished one. The brand-new one is always better.
Next, we look at Estrogen balance – again, our gut health directly impacts our hormone health.
Microbes in the gut called Oestrobolome produce beta-glucuronidase.
This enzyme separates estrogen into their active forms so we can use them.
You can also employ some simple strategies.
- Exercise releases feel-good endorphins
- Yoga & meditation help reduce stress
- Blood sugar levels, keeping them level will help balance mood
- Sleep, the holy grail during menopause but a good sleep routine will be super beneficial to mood
- Herbal treatments – Chamomile, Valerian, and St John’s Wort can all help keep us relaxed
- Taking CBD activates the neurotransmitters in our brains, such as Serotonin, amongst many other benefits
- Using Essential Oils – Clary Sage, Lavender, and Geranium are all calming
- HRT can help give you back those missing hormones and support the transition
An important note
Unfortunately, because of the lack of training on menopause that Doctors receive, it’s all too common for them to prescribe anti-depressants for women going through menopause.
In the UK, NICE guidelines for Doctors are clear: SSRIs are ineffective for the low mood associated with menopause.
Please review your country’s medical governing bodies’ rules before seeing your doctor.
If you liked this post, why not check out Essential Oils for Menopause
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