Symptoms

There are over 40 symptoms associated with menopause. They range from weight gain, hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia to leaking wee and the list continues below.

Changes in

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

Changes in

Physical Wellbeing

Changes in

Sleep & Energy

Some women report feelings of bitterness that they attribute to feeling treated unfairly and often this bitterness can build up to feelings of resentment and even rage.

Why does a feeling of bitterness develop during menopause?

  • Overall, it is thought that hormonal changes associated with menopause make mood swings during midlife more prevalent
  • Oestrogen and progesterone usually work together to regulate mood. As these hormones drop off in midlife, women are more at risk of developing anxiety and a by-product can be bitterness and anger.

A panic attack is generally defined as a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physiological reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can feel extremely frightening and can feel like you’re having a heart attack or even dying. Although panic attacks aren’t life-threatening, they can significantly affect your quality of life.

Why do panic attacks happen during menopause?

  • Overall, it is thought that hormonal changes associated with menopause make panic attacks during midlife more prevalent
  • Oestrogen and progesterone usually work together to regulate mood. As these hormones drop off in midlife, women are more at risk of developing anxiety. If this is overwhelming or left untreated it can ramp up into panic attacks
  • Menopausal hot flushes may also bring on panic attacks, as women can worry and feel self-conscious about sweating in public

Brain fog is the popular name for many cognitive symptoms during menopause, confusion is one in particular that women experience. You may feel confused or find it hard to focus or put your thoughts into words.

It’s sometimes also described as mental fatigue. Depending on its severity it can interfere with work and your daily life.

Why does brain fog happen at this time of your life?

  • It’ll probably come as no surprise that these changes in memory, concentration and focus are a result of hormonal changes – yep, they are responsible for so much!
  • Declining levels of oestrogen and progesterone, which are the hormones responsible for the follicle stimulation and luteinization phases of the reproductive cycle, are also responsible for cognition. Their fluctuations during perimenopause are partly responsible for brain fog symptoms
  • Don’t forget there is hope as research has shown that symptoms of brain fog get better over the course of menopause

Brain fog is the popular name for multiple cognitive symptoms during menopause. Specifically, women may experience loss of memory or ability to remember simple things such as words or names.

Why does brain fog happen at this time of your life?

  • It’ll probably come as no surprise that these changes in memory, concentration and focus are a result of hormonal changes – yep, they are responsible for so much!
  • Declining levels of oestrogen and progesterone, which are the hormones responsible for the follicle stimulation and luteinization phases of the reproductive cycle, are also responsible for cognition. Their fluctuations during perimenopause are partly responsible for brain fog symptoms
  • Don’t forget there is hope as research has shown that symptoms of brain fog get better over the course of menopause

Remember that most people will go through periods of feeling a bit down during their lives, but when you’re depressed you’ll persistently feel sad for weeks or months at a time. Having depression also means you might lack interest or pleasure from activities that you would usually find rewarding or enjoyable. 

Common characteristics of depression:

  • Disrupt your sleep and appetite
  • Give an overwhelming sense of tiredness
  • Difficulty concentrating

Causes of depression can be hugely complex and are usually a result of interactions between social, psychological, and biological factors. So it’s not too much of a stretch to see how menopause might influence our mood and feelings of depression. 

Why does depression happen during menopause?

  • Research has shown that fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause may account for depressive episodes/depression during this transition
  • When oestrogen levels fluctuate, serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine (hormones that make you feel happy) are also affected, resulting in mood dysregulation
  • Specific menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and their impact on sleep have also been implicated in depression during the menopause

Some women report feelings of unexpected or uncharacteristic anger or even rage. Women often describe going from a stable state to one where they are intensely resentful or irritated in minutes. Family or friends may also notice you have a lot less patience than normal.

Why does a feeling of anger develop during menopause?

  • Overall, it is thought that hormonal changes associated with menopause make mood swings during midlife more prevalent
  • Oestrogen affects the production of serotonin which is a mood enhancer and regulator. When your oestrogen levels decline your mood maybe affected. Your mood should stabilise when your body gets used to the lower levels of oestrogen

Some women describe feeling irritable as part of their menopause. They describe it as a feeling of being annoyed with everything and everyone around them without any specific reason.

Many women find that they are prone to tearfulness, whether brought on by sadness, anger or frustration.

Your menopause journey can be fraught with different emotions, many of which contribute to tearfulness. Add to this the disrupted sleep, hot flushes and other physical symptoms of menopause, and feeling teary at times is understandable.

Crying can also be a sign of depression, so it is important to keep an eye on your overall mental health and seek help if needed.

Why does tearfulness happen during menopause?

Tearfulness – like other mood changes – can be due to fluctuating hormone levels during the perimenopause.

The unstable levels of oestrogen can have a knock-on effect on other hormones which regulate our mood. These include serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine.

The physical changes of menopause can also contribute. Hot flushes and insomnia have both been linked to mood changes (including tearfulness).

Brain fog is the popular name for many cognitive symptoms during peri-menopause, one of which is loss of concentration. 

Whether it’s losing track of conversations or drifting off mid-meeting, loss of concentration is a common experience which can make both your work life and your home life more challenging.

Other physical problems associated with peri-menopause – including disrupted sleep and hot flushes – can also make it more difficult to concentrate through the day.

Loss of concentration can be linked to a number of other medical conditions. Check in with your GP if you are struggling with these symptoms on a regular basis.

Why does loss of concentration happen during menopause?

  • Hormonal changes are – yet again! – the cause.
  • Oestrogen is known to promote health among brain cells and to work with the many of the brain systems such as the cholinergic system (part of the brain which is associated with memory).
  • It is therefore believed that the reduction in oestrogen during perimenopause and beyond is responsible for loss in concentration.
  • There is some good news – research has shown that brain fog improves over the course of menopause as the oestrogen level stabilises. And some recent research has shown the brain is capable of changing and adapting in light of reduced oestrogen levels.

Feeling overwhelmed? It’s not just you. Many women feel unable to cope at some point on their menopause journey.

This can be a busy and overwhelming time of life to begin with, but there is also a biological basis for these feelings.

Why do we feel unable to cope during menopause?

  • Feeling unable to cope – like other mood changes – can be due to fluctuating hormone levels during the menopause.
  • Unstable levels of oestrogen can have a knock-on effect on other hormones which regulate our mood. These include serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. 
  • Feeling unable to cope can sometimes be a sign of depression, which is common in menopause. [Please link to depression section if possible]
  • The physical changes of menopause can also contribute. Hot flushes in particular can be an overwhelming and unpredictable experience.

Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion except when it impacts your day-to-day life. Mild anxiety can feel vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety could seriously affect day-to-day living. It can alter how you process emotions and behaviour, while causing some more physical symptoms. 

Anxiety can appear as feelings of tension and fear or having worried thoughts. Physical symptoms include sweating, trembling, dizziness, increased blood pressure or a rapid heartbeat.

People with anxiety disorders (Generalised Anxiety Disorder [GAD] or panic disorders) tend to have more intrusive recurring thoughts or concerns, and may avoid certain situations out of worry.

Why does anxiety happen at this time of your life?

  • It’s straight back to your fluctuating hormone levels, specifically oestrogen and progesterone, that can cause changes in mood, but it’s not the only factor that can cause anxiety 
  • Menopause is a big life change that can rattle your self-image. For some women no longer being able to have children can trigger feelings of anxiety and loss – especially if they have experienced infertility or pregnancy loss previously
  • Hot flushes and anxiety symptoms have a “chicken-and-the-egg” type of relationship, if you have more physical symptoms of anxiety then you’re more likely to experience hot flushes and vice versa

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