When we think of perimenopause and menopause symptoms, it's usually hot flushes and night sweats that spring to mind.
But a new study has found that there's one symptom that perimenopausal and menopausal women can find even more debilitating, but often don't realise is linked to hormonal changes: perimenopause anxiety.
A survey of over 300 women by MPowered Women, the community hub for midlife women, found that 88% of those who took part were surprised when they experienced anxiety as a symptom of perimenopause. The majority of these women also said they found perimenopause-related anxiety worse than hot flushes.
What lots of women don't know is that perimenopausal and menopausal anxiety is actually very common.
It is caused by the fluctuation of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone as ovulation slows and periods stop. Symptoms can include fearfulness or even full blown panic attacks, loss of confidence, lack of sleep, poor concentration and brain fog.
Watch: Julie Graham on finding empowerment in the menopause
MPowered co-founder Saska Graville experienced menopausal anxiety first-hand. She says 'the invisible symptom that sneaks up on many midlife women and turns their lives upside down' manifested for her as 'a real loss of confidence at work. I experienced a fight or flight panic every time I was asked to do something and a complete inability to remember facts'.
Saska is far from alone because, shockingly, menopause-related anxiety causes one in four women to consider leaving their job.
Dr Stephanie Goodwin, a GP and menopause specialist who works with MPowered Women, says: 'A lot of women leave work at this time of life which is a great shame as they have so much to offer. I often meet women who are on the verge of giving up work because they can’t think clearly.'
Dr Goodwin believes the answer lies in raising awareness amongst doctors, as well as menopausal women, so that their symptoms aren't misdiagnosed as depression.
'What happens to many women is that GPs give them six weeks-worth of anti-depressants, so many women are given the prescription and never take it,' she says.
If you need support and advice around perimenopause and menopause, contact your GP.
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