Can menopause be the trigger for anxiety, worry, panic attacks or depression for your colleague?
The most commonly recognised perimenopause and menopause symptoms are the physical symptoms.
Hot flushes, night sweats, headaches, joint stiffness, aches and pains and more.
Then there are the psychological symptoms too which for many can be more debilitating than the physical symptoms.
In this blog, I’m going to talk about anxiety, worry, panic attacks and depression as possible symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause.
What the symptoms are, how they can impact your colleague and why it’s so important to talk about menopause in the workplace and how the workplace can help.
Perimenopause and menopause symptoms can contribute to anxiety, worry and depression.
Menopausal anxiety symptoms can include:
- Panic attacks
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Chronic sweating
- Muscle tension
- Reduction in confidence
- Increased worry and doubt
- Suicidal thoughts
Why does menopause cause anxiety, worry, panic attacks and depression?
No one knows but when a woman transitions from perimenopause, menopause to post menopause Oestrogen fluctuates and the brain has oestrogen receptors so this may be the cause.
It’s commonly recognised that stress, worry and anxiety can also make menopause symptoms worse.
Can other menopausal symptoms make anxiety worse?
If your colleague is struggling with other menopause symptoms they may find themselves in a vicious cycle of symptoms.
Many women also experience insomnia during the menopause or regularly suffer disturbed sleep. This can result in fatigue leading to depression which leaves women struggling physically and emotionally through their menopause.
How many women does it affect?
Research shows that:
31.9% in the workplace suffer with anxiety and worry.
How long can menopause anxiety last?
Symptoms can begin from the age of 40 but can happen earlier.
The average length of time is four years but many women still have some symptoms for longer than ten years.
Are problems with anxiety, worry, panic attacks and depression a normal part of menopause?
Unfortunately, these symptoms can be a normal part of menopause.
Will everyone who is menopausal suffer with anxiety, worry and depression?
Symptoms are unique to each person going through it.
How mild and sever the symptoms are will vary person to person.
Menopause and Suicide
The Office for National Statistics state that suicide rates among women in the UK spike between the ages of 45 and 49 years old. The normal expected age range for women to transition through menopause is between 45 and 55 years old.
Meanwhile figures from The Samaritans in 2018 showed that the age range for women with the highest suicide rate per 100,000 in the UK is between 50-54 years old, again, right round the age of the menopause for many women.
How can the workplace help?
Learn about menopause and its symptoms and how they can impact your colleagues.
Talk about menopause as an organisation.
Talk to your colleagues about it.
Introduce menopause hubs or meeting places or meeting times.
Put in place support and help.
- Do not make assumptions about someone’s health condition or ask them a direct question as to whether they have menopause symptoms
- If you have concerns about someone’s well-being or performance, ask open questions
- ‘How are you doing at the moment?’
- ‘I’ve noticed you’ve been arriving late recently, and I wondered if you’re okay?’
- It’s up to the individual to disclose any particular symptoms or health issues.
- Approach conversations with empathy, and try not to be embarrassed
- If you do have concerns
- Encourage them to speak with your Occupational Health (if you have one) their GP or signpost them to individuals or organistions that can help support them with their menopause-related symptoms.
Want to know more about menopause awareness for your workplace?
Here’s some further reading.