Menopause and anxiety: How to boost your mental wellbeing 

The menopause can be a difficult time for some, bringing anxiety among other symptoms. But these tips can help to ease you through it.

The menopause can be a big change in a woman’s life, and for some, it brings a lot of symptoms to deal with. 

One of these can be anxiety. Though it’s often underestimated or even dismissed – put down to being hormonal” – anxiety can be upsetting and debilitating. But with the help of personal trainer and menopause expert, Kate Rowe-Ham, founder of Owning Your Menopause, we have all the tips you need to deal with anxiety in menopause.

Anxious womanCredit: Shutterstock / Daisy Daisy

Can the menopause cause anxiety?

Perimenopause begins when the two main female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, start to decline. While we often think of this change in terms of our periods stopping, the hormonal effect can be far-reaching, as Rowe-Ham explains:  

We’ve got oestrogen in every single cell of our bodies, from top to toe. Oestrogen also helps with the production of serotonin, and all those feel-good hormones. Oestrogen supplies you with energy, and with confidence.  

If oestrogen is depleting, you can begin to question yourself on everything you’re feeling. That can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress, and for some women, depression.” 


What is the perimenopause?

When your hormone levels start to change but before your periods stop – and its symptoms, start for most women in their forties. However, this can be earlier or later, and this period of transition usually lasts between four and seven years. The menopause is technically classed as the time from when it’s been one year and one day since your last period. 

Menopause often occurs at a time in life when we’re juggling a lot. Whether it’s caring for elderly relatives, dealing with children leaving home or trying to manage a career and deal with symptoms, the added stress can also have an effect.  

You go into that fight or flight mode, which raises your cortisol levels,” she says, referring to the main stress hormone. “And oestrogen has an impact on your cortisol levels as well. When you’re anxious, your cortisol levels can be raised even further, which can leave you in a continuous state of anxiety.” 

Anxiety and menopause

Symptoms of anxiety during menopause include:  

  • breathlessness 
  • fluttering or irregular heartbeat 
  • a feeling of helplessness 
  • overwhelm 
  • tearfulness 
  • anger
  • loss of confidence
Mediterranean-style dietCredit: Shutterstock / Antonina Vlasova
A Mediterranean-style diet can be helpful during menopause

Treatments for menopause anxiety


There is evidence that a Mediterranean-style diet – one that is rich in vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole-grains, pulses, nuts and healthy fats, and moderate alcohol consumption – can help with various menopause symptoms, as well as helping to maintain a healthy weight and reducing type 2 diabetes.  

Rowe-Ham found that focusing on a healthy diet helped her menopausal symptoms too.  

Breathlessness was one of my worst symptoms,” she says. And I found cutting back on sugar and alcohol to be really helpful. Too much sugar places more stress on the body, increasing your glucose level, which will increase your stress hormone cortisol and in turn cause more anxiety. As we go through menopause, we often can’t tolerate sugar because of our insulin sensitivity too.” 

She adds: The other thing we need to care about is our gut bacteria, which is proven to be central to managing stress and anxiety and depression. So, I think one of the first things a woman can do to help herself is to look at her diet and cut back on sugar and alcohol.”


Exercise in menopause helps our mental wellbeing. However, one of the other symptoms it can bring is aching joints, so how do you exercise if it’s an effort to get moving?  

Try to get outside, and if you can walk, do it for five minutes,” Rowe-Ham advises. Five minutes one week, 10 minutes the following week. Any form of movement will be beneficial. It can be really difficult to do, but you’ve got to try and trust that process of movement and nourishing your body to take yourself out of this place that many of us find ourselves in.”


If you feel youre suffering from clinical depression, its important to speak to your GP or healthcare provider.

Strength training is important during menopause,she continues. But be careful not to overtrain. Allow your body to rest between sessions. Yoga, Pilates, and cold-water swimming are all good, holistic ways to exercise. Do something you enjoy and be kind to yourself. You really can thrive if you look at the ways in which you can add things to your lifestyle to make it better.


Taking time out of everyday life to focus on yourself is a good way of dealing with anxious thoughts. Many women find it’s helpful to keep a journal. You can buy a regular diary or notebook for this or use a specific journaling app that will give you daily prompts.  

Meditation gives you a chance to switch off from the world. It can take many forms, whether that’s sitting in silence for a while, listening to music, or using a guided meditation. Headspace is one of the best-known apps for mental wellness and has a range of meditation options.

Woman asleep in bedCredit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images
A good night’s sleep can help menopause anxiety


Sleep can become disrupted during menopause due to night sweats, aching joints and of course, anxiety. It might be difficult to get to sleep in the first place, or you may wake up in the night. Lying there worrying about how many hours rest you’ll get will only heighten anxiety, so Rowe-Ham suggests focusing on getting into a good bedtime routine, instead.  

 “Put your phone away an hour before bed,” she says. That will help with anxiety, and you’ll sleep better.” 

Spending time practising mindfulness may also help, as can reading a book. Taking a bath or shower, or doing some gentle yoga poses can also relax both the body and mind to prepare for rest.

Hormone replacement therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is useful for some women. It can restore hormone levels to pre-menopause levels, easing a lot of symptoms. There are many different types of HRT, and not all options will be suitable for all women, so it’s important to talk to your GP or a menopause specialist who can offer advice.  

It might take some time to find the correct dose and type of HRT for you, but most women notice a significant decrease in symptoms once this is sorted.  

Some types of HRT may increase your risk of breast cancer, but this is very small, and according to the NHS, the benefits of taking it outweigh any risks.  

Talking therapies

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be useful for dealing with menopause anxiety. Talking to a professional about how you’re feeling can help you process your thoughts and feelings. They will work with you to learn coping mechanisms, lessen anxiety and build confidence.  

If you live in England, you can refer yourself for CBT via the NHS talking therapies service. If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you can ask your GP about services local to you.

Don’t play the comparison game

Everybody’s journey is unique. And you’re meant to be here just as you are,” says Rowe-Ham. A lot of women are scrolling on social media, comparing themselves to other women, and that will play into those feelings of anxiety and depression.” 

Many of us use social media daily, and it’s a great tool for keeping in touch with family and friends. But it can also heighten feelings of anxiety by leading us to believe everyone else has a picture-perfect life. Remember, what you see online is an edited snapshot that someone wants you to see – especially with celebrity accounts. If you feel inadequate or anxious when scrolling, unfollow accounts that make you feel that way.  

Rowe-Ham says:I think we can compare ourselves and feel: ‘Why don’t I have abs like her, or skin like her?’ Don’t base where you are on anybody else. You are you, and that is enough.” 

Becky Fuller

Written by Becky Fuller she/her


Becky Fuller is a Staff Writer for Fitness at Exceptional. Becky is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, specialising in strength and conditioning for over 50s. Becky is passionate about Kettlebell training, and runs a regular kettlebell club in the local community. Prior to this, she worked as a Fitness manager in a local gym. Becky’s focus is helping people to become stronger both in body and mind, and to move well without pain.

Becky also has many years’ experience working as a freelance journalist, writing for a wide variety of publications such as Screen Rant, Geek Feed, and Daily Actor. She also regularly reviews theatre productions for UKTW.

Away from work, Becky unsurprisingly enjoys exercise, with a focus on lifting weights, kettlebells, and Olympic rings. She loves watching theatre, swimming, and reading a good book. She has three teenage children and enjoys spending time with them, preferably on a Cornish beach.

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