Is It Normal to Feel Anxiety During Perimenopause?

Are there any natural supplements that would be helpful for anxiety and/or mild depression during perimenopause? Is it normal to feel high anxiety during this time? Please tell me it won't last 10 years!

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D.

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D.

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A: Perimenopause is a normal part of life, and every woman is different in how she feels during this period of time - which can be as long as a decade until periods stop altogether (that's menopause). Many women have physical symptoms, behavioral symptoms, or both. The reasons (and the solutions) are both biological and lifestyle-related. You sound like the mental health issues of anxiety are bothering you the most. Changing hormone status can influence mood and sense of well being, including anxiety.


Also, for many women perimenopause is a time major life-change - "empty nesters" with children grown; aging parents; the recognition that it's the end of the reproductive years (not that you want to have another baby!); changing work ambitions and goals. These can all promote anxiety, even without the hormonal changes. Talk to your gynecologist about this, and determine whether prescription medication for anxiety, or hormonal fluctuations might meet your needs. Try to structure your eating and physical activity to be regular - which can sometimes help.


I'd steer clear of over the counter dietary supplements, since they are not approved by the FDA, and are without any documentation of product safety, efficacy, or dosage. While there might be some useful products, you'll have to review very carefully, and seek information from your local pharmacist. Remember, "natural" doesn't always mean safe - arsenic is natural!


Also, try to set aside some daily time for yourself, for a walk, or a cup of chamomile tea and a magazine - about 30 minutes a day. Think about the reasons for your anxiety, and determine if you need further help in managing your personal life stressors. Sometimes private or individual therapy can be of help, if friends and relatives are not enough support to meet your needs. Good luck - and let us know how you are managing!