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Irritability and Feelings of Dread

Often located in the pit of the stomach...

...we can feel dread or apprehension for no apparent reason during menopause.

Irritability and Feelings of Dread Menopause

Why does this happen?

Our progesterone levels decline markedly around 35 years of age, some time before we head into perimenopause. Then as we move into the menopausal transition our ovarian production of estrogen also begins to drop.

While progesterone is a natural relaxant and a calming hormone (often called Nature’s Valium), estrogen works with the brain and the central nervous system and regulates the stress hormone cortisol.

Lower levels of estrogen lead to higher cortisol levels.

It creates a perfect storm for anxiety which can also pave the way for a feeling of dread or doom as high levels of cortisol trigger the amygdala which is the fear centre of the brain and fluctuating hormones can affect the neurotransmitters of the brain.

What can you do to help ease this symptom?

Try to minimise stress as much as possible in your life (a tall order we know!). Take 40+ or 55+ to help keep your estrogen in balance. Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to be helpful during peri/menopause too.

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This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.


Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.