A common symptom during the perimenopause and menopause years is anxiety. This symptom can seemingly spring from nowhere and occur independently from other symptoms though more commonly it is associated with hot flushes.

Anxiety can manifest itself in a number of different ways. Feelings of nervousness or butterflies in your stomach, irritability and tension sometimes accompanied by a racing heart are classic signs. Feelings of panic are common too with or/and a sense of unexplained foreboding. Many women can feel out of control and generally worried. This can be alarming in women who have never experienced anxiety or mood issues in the past but are equally unpleasant in those who have.

The cause is the fluctuations in female hormones (especially a drop in progesterone in perimenopause) as well as the relationships/ratios between hormones. Changes in the levels of progesterone and oestrogen and the consequent effects on their actions can affect mood-regulating hormones, namely serotonin and dopamine. At the same time, increases in cortisol around this time can exacerbate anxiety. Mild heart palpitations are potentially caused by a drop in progesterone and can be helped nutritionally however if they last more than a few minutes, a trip to the doctor will be necessary to rule out other issues such as potential thyroid or cardiovascular system problems.

Poor dietary choices can affect your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and can make feelings of anxiety worse.  It is important to have protein at every meal and avoid blood sugar spikes created by simple carbohydrates such as baked goods.  Caffeine is especially unhelpful when it comes to anxiety and your adrenal glands and it also reduces GABA, the calming brain chemical.   Don’t skimp on the carbs! These are needed to make GABA and additionally, progesterone so a good amount of complex carbs, for example, root veg and beans are important.  Vitamin B6, lemon balm and L Theanine are supplements that have been shown to help some; vitamin B6 is important in the formation of serotonin. CoQ10 improves brain function for postmenopausal women and it has lots of other health benefits for this age group so it’s worth giving it a go.

Lowering caffeine intake and dealing with stress can improve mild heart palpitations. Supplementing magnesium can have beneficial effects on heart palpitations too. Reducing stress is key to managing anxiety; a morning and evening routine, meditation and gentle exercise such as yoga can be very beneficial.   Breath-work is an incredibly powerful tool as it stimulates the vagus nerve into releasing calming chemicals. Having regular baths with Epsom salts (that contain magnesium) are also an important part of a self-care routine.

The good news is that anxiety appears to dissipate post-menopause.   Be sure to ask for help if you need it. Visit the doctor if things become unmanageable and regularly employ the strategies above.

On our next retreat, we practice these management strategies not only giving you a wonderfully calming experience but also take-home strategies for both your diet and physical and mental routines. Our schedule includes meditation, yoga and breath-work plus nutrition workshops and fantastically tasty and healthy meals.  Have a look at the retreats page for more info.


Do contact me directly if you want to discuss your individual circumstances or to enquire about the retreat at charlotte@wearenutrition.co.uk


Don’t miss the Early Bird Offer on our  Women’s Wellbeing Retreat May 10th-13th 2022