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Diet and herbs are just a couple of ways to control anxiety in menopause. What is anxiety?
One day you're at work and you start feeling a little strange, not good. It's a vague feeling, hard to describe, but you don't feel yourself and you don't feel good. Maybe your heart rate is up, you feel a little anxious, somehow you just don't feel right. There's not really any pain, just some discomfort.
You're 52 and heart disease runs in your family. You don't smoke, but you're overweight. You don't drink, but you don't exercise either. You do what you normally do, decide to wait a bit and see if it goes away. After a couple of hours, you're still feeling slightly bad. It's not the intensity that bothers you, because the feelings are pretty mild. It's the fact that the feelings are so different from normal that has you wondering what's wrong.
A colleague happens to mention a friend of his had chest pains and went to the fire department to get checked out. You don't have chest pains, but you know women don't always have the same symptoms as men when it comes to heart attacks. The fire department is only a few blocks away. You mention your symptoms to your colleague and he suggests you go get checked out. You go, figuring all will be fine and you'll be back at work having eliminated the reason for worry in a few minutes. You're worried about money, and the fire department won't cost anything.
You go into the fire department's office and your colleague says something to someone about chest pain. Uh-oh. Wrong thing to say. Four paramedics descend on you from nowhere, and start taking vital signs and firing questions at you. Before you know it, you're being wheeled into an ambulance and on your way to the hospital, even though your signs are fine!
After five hours in emergency, you're about to get released. In talking to one of the doctors, you put together that 24 hours ago you bought your first house as a newly divorced woman – a big commitment for someone who knows their full-time job isn't permanent -- and you were having a menopause anxiety attack.
This actually happened to me a couple of years ago, and is an example of a real situation triggering physiological symptoms that I needed to pay attention to and resolve. Realizing that I was under a lot of stress and needed to do something about it, I started taking Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcos.), an herb well-known for it's ability to help your body adapt better to stress. I noticed a difference within a day or two.
Of course in a situation like this, there is a legitimate cause for stress and worry. The problem is, worry is 100% ineffective; it doesn't solve anything. If there is a way to eliminate the stressful situation, that is always the best solution. If you cannot do that right away, there are other things you can do to reduce the impact of the stress on your body. And that will reduce your menopause anxiety.
Symptoms of Menopause Anxiety
Common symptoms of menopause anxiety include irritability, crying, shakiness, shortness of breath, pounding heart, chest pain, nausea, your mind stuck on the same thought or thoughts of what if ___(something bad) happens, what will I do?
A lot of people when talking about symptoms of menopause anxiety will talk about irrational fears or worries, or fear/worry blown out of proportion. I think this is ridiculous. First of all, your body doesn't know the difference between irrational and/or rational fear. Secondly, who cares?
If you're having symptoms of menopause anxiety that don't go away or that are interfering with your life in some way, don't you just want to resolve it?
Does it really matter whether some guy down the street thinks you're overreacting or not? In fact, the only person who needs to care about that is you, and naming these fears as irrational does not support you feeling good about yourself, which can go a long way toward helping you feel less anxious!
What is important, however, is knowing whether you are having what Julia Ross, in her excellent book, The Mood Cure, calls “true emotions or false moods”. The reason you want to know the difference is because true emotions, while maybe not feeling good or being inconvenient in our busy lives, are natural and useful to help you move through the situation. True grief over the loss of a loved one is a necessary part of letting go and preparing to go on with your life. True anger is protective in an abusive situation, etc. But if you are irritable all the time, or you cry every time you see something sentimental, you may have a physiological problem to deal with. A good counselor can help you sort through the differences if you aren't sure.
Why Is Anxiety More Prevalent in Menopause?
There's a lot of talk about menopause anxiety. I know I never had it before, but I also never had divorced before, never had worries about losing custody of my only son, never had worries about getting back into the workplace after years of being a stay-at-home mom, etc., etc. My point is, there are some very good reasons that anxiety shows up around menopause...many women are going through a lot of changes beyond the profound physical changes we all go through...and of course this is happening at mid-life – a time when death and chronic serious illness become much more present and real as we approach the second half of our lives.
So in addition to real physical and societal circumstances that would create anxiety in any normal person, we have the added issues of hormone imbalance, the effects of stress on your body, and possibly years of bad diets, not enough exercise, and other imbalances that modern women have come to think are normal.
What Can You Do About Menopause Anxiety?
Fortunately there's quite a bit you can do about it. Low serotonin will cause menopause anxiety.
The first step is to avoid substances that interfere with serotonin.
Coffee or anything containing caffeine, including teas, sodas, chocolate, and other stimulants, especially sugar and sweets. Aspartame (Nutrasweet) interferes with serotonin. So does stress.
Make Sure Your Diet is Healthy
Get enough protein and good fats. Eat lots of vegetables.
Get Enough Exercise
Exercise gets your blood flowing, which helps your body eliminate toxins more effectively.
Supplements for Menopause Anxiety
There are some supplements that can help tremendously in this area. They will work better if you are following a healthy lifestyle in addition to using supplements.
Made from griffonia seeds. You should notice results within a day or two (or as quickly as ten minutes!) 5-htp boosts serotonin, turning anxiety, fear and negativity into relaxation, confidence and a positive outlook. Start with one 50mg capsule (do NOT take it in 100mg caps) in the afternoon, between meals. Add one capsule after dinner if needed. You can increase by one capsule at a time to up to 6 capsules a day (3 in the afternoon and 3 at night).
Caution: Do not take 5-HTP or any supplements without consulting your doctor if you have any serious physical or emotional illness or are pregnant or nursing, especially heart disease, low or high blood pressure, cancer, auto-immune diseases, any kind of liver disease, kidney damage or are taking any medications.
In addition to being low in serotonin, you may need to de-stress. The ginsengs and other herbs are excellent for women under stress.
Of course, if you're trying to do too much, or are in over your head financially, or putting up with a relationship you should have abandoned long ago, or your kids are in trouble, diet, exercise and supplements will only take you so far.
So you may have real life situations that you need to either get resolved or get support for. If money is an issue, check out the many 12-step programs available (they are all free, and some of them are very helpful). Or look in your local newspaper for support groups in your area. If one doesn't seem like a fit, don't give up, try another one. The groups will vary greatly based on the people in them at the time.
You may qualify for free counseling or support that you're not aware of. For instance, in my county, if you are a victim of domestic violence, (which isn't just for battered women), you and your children are entitled to free counseling, individual and group. Domestic violence covers a wide range of partner behaviors. Some of the not-so-obvious ones are listed below:
Emotional Abuse: calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you, controls finances or refuses to share money, punishes you by withholding affection
Physical Abuse: damages property when angry (throws objects, punches walls, kicks doors, etc.), scares you by driving recklessly
Sexual Abuse: ignores your feelings regarding sex, demands sex when you are sick or tired
Surprised? I know I was. For more information on domestic violence, just google it. You'll find plenty of information and help, if you need it.
In summary, adopting and following good lifestyle habits, including exercise, a balanced, nutrient-dense diet, and a support network can go a long way toward reducing menopause anxiety. And if you need a little more help than that, try one of the ginsengs or other herbs for menopause ....they work really well.