Women are more susceptible to anxiety, it's a fact! Recent studies found that women were twice as likely to suffer than men, and even more so in Europe and the USA.
Everyone feels anxious at times, it’s part of our stress response, it enables us to deal with danger so we stay alive. But when anxiety turns into excessive fear, panic and worry, it can have a devastating effect on both home and work life.
Many women find they become more anxious during peri-menopause and menopause, even if they have never had anxiety in the past. Physical symptoms can go along with these feelings, including sweating, palpitations, panic attacks, shaking, nausea and diarrhoea just a few.
What's causing the anxiety?
- Cortisol – increased stress levels stimulate constant cortisol release, and too much (or too little) cortisol can interfere with your brain neurotransmitters and increase anxiety.
Tip; Schedule in daily stress mgt practices, such as meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, yoga, reading, massage, whatever floats your boat.
- Sex hormone changes – oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone have a big role to play in how your brain works, and therefore how you feel. Fluctuations after 40 can increase anxiety, depression and general brain function.
- Insulin – a high sugar/refined carb/processed diet can push up insulin, which can cause inflammation in the brain, altering neurotransmitters and mood
- Thyroid – low thyroid hormones mean a lower supply of energy to the brain, this can disrupt normal mood and function and increase anxiety
Tip; get your thyroid properly tested; ask for TSH, T4, T3 and antibodies. Nutreints to support thyroid include iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iodine.
- Gut health – we now know there is a direct link between your gut and your brain. If your gut isn’t happy (you may have digestive issues, you may not), then it can contribute to low mood and/or anxiety.
Tip; look after your gut by eliminating foods that you might be sensitive to (eg gluten or dairy) for a few weeks to notice how you feel. Try foods rich in probiotics such as live yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha to rebalance your gut bacteria.
- Nutrient deficiencies – these vitamins and minerals are crucial for brain health – Magnesium (nature’s tranquiliser!), Vitamin D (sunshine), B12, B6 (helps to make neurotransmitters like serotonin), Folate (helps B12 and iron), Iron (carries oxygen to brain cells), Omega 3 fats and zinc, among others. If we don't get enough from our diet, OR we are not absorbing them very well, deficiencies can occur and cause symptoms.
Tip; Get tested – these are all things we test for routinely – and your Dr should be too. If not, supplementing is very safe (check with your Dr if you’re on medication). Look for methylated form of B vitamins.
- Emotional issues – anxiety might not be anything to do with your physical body, it can come from emotional issues that affect your self-esteem and confidence.
Tip; No food or supplements can help with this, so you will need to get specialist help with this. I’ve heard amazing things about the Thrive programme, an evidence-based training programme that teaches people the skills and resources to overcome mental health issues and learn to thrive.
If you think the source of your anxiety is more physical than emotional, and you’d like help finding the root cause, do book in a free Discovery call with me or one fo the team so we can see how best to help you.