Women’s Health Expert Marla Ahlgrimm on Coping with Perimenopausal Anxiety
Perimenopause, or the menopause transition, begins several years before menopause, says pharmacist and women’s health expert, Marla Ahlgrimm. During this time the ovaries begin to make less estrogen and progesterone. For many women, perimenopause is also a time of risk for the onset of a mood or anxiety disorder. While perimenopausal anxiety is very common, in a minority of women, anxiety symptoms are severe enough to warrant treatment.
Q: Is it because women are feeling anxious about menopause? Or, the other way around, does menopause itself cause anxiety?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Both. There is a connection between hormonal changes and psychiatric symptoms in general, and women undergoing specific hormonal changes during perimenopause have increased risk for particular psychiatric disorders.
Q: How is perimenopause diagnosed?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Often a doctor can make the diagnosis based on a woman’s symptoms. A simple blood test to check hormone levels may also help.
Q: Does increased anxiety pass once a woman gets through the menopause transition?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, Many women find that their level of anxiety decreases once they are postmenopausal. The most important thing for women to recognize is that increased anxiety is normal and temporary.
Q: Does my anxiety need to be treated with prescription medications?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Anxiety treatment is always warranted when symptoms lead to substantial distress for an individual and/or impairment of regular functioning.
Q: How can I identify symptoms of anxiety?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Anxiety can manifest itself in many forms: sleeplessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability. Even depression can be symptoms of anxiety.
Q: Do you have any advice as to how to reduce anxiety?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Things you can do to help reduce anxiety include eating healthy, reducing caffeine and alcohol, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Most importantly, don’t forget to stay positive. It is also important that women identify the symptoms of anxiety they’re experiencing so they can find the best ways to alleviate them.