In case you’re in menopause or perimenopause, you’re likely to experience hot flashes. It can be called “power surges,” as these hot flashes send a rush of heat through your upper body. If you experience extreme hot flashes, it can cause a racing heartbeat, excessive sweating, and red blotches on your skin. Furthermore, for some individuals, hot flashes often accompany tension or maybe even drive it.
What are hot flashes?
A hot flash is a sudden temptation of excessive heat that is not a result of something external. We do not exactly know why a hot flash occurs. It can be that variating estrogen levels disrupt your body’s temperature. As a result, the blood vessels close to your pores and skin open up, and your pores and skin temperature abruptly rises. After a hot flash, sweat evaporates out of your pores and skin, causing it to feel a cooling sensation. This swift change can cause you to feel dizzy.
How are Anxiety and Hot Flashes Related?
The relationship between anxiety and hot flashes can be a chicken-and-egg situation. In a past study, researchers observed 436 premenopausal women for six years. They found that anxiety was not just a symptom of hot flashes, but people with anxiety were 3-5 times more likely to have hot flashes. When researchers returned to the same group in 2016 to analyze their symptoms after 14 years, they confirmed the strong link between anxiety and hot flashes. In this study, researchers distinguished between affective anxiety, also known as emotional anxiety, and somatic anxiety associated with physical symptoms such as stomach upset, headache, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness. People with emotional anxiety were not more likely to have hot flashes. But having symptoms of physical anxiety was a strong indication that hot flashes would occur during menopause.
What could be contributing to your hot flashes?
Several other conditions and behaviors can increase your chances of experiencing hot flashes. Here’s what can commonly cause hot flashes:
- Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods can trigger hot flashes.
- Some prescription drugs can cause or worsen hot flashes, including those used in chemotherapy.
- Smoking is associated with middle-aged hot flashes.
- Radiation therapy for cancer can also cause hot flashes and night sweats
- A study in 2008 suggested a connection between child abuse or neglect and the risk of developing hot flashes during menopause. They conceived that the effects of child abuse lasted in their mid ages.
- Several other situations and behaviors can increase the likelihood that you’ll experience hot flashes.
How can you decrease anxiety during menopause?
You can use the following techniques to reduce anxiety:
- Take plenty of rest.
- Make exercise a part of your routine.
- Talk about it with someone you trust.
- Take good care of your mind and body.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormonal replacement therapy is recommended to reduce menopausal symptoms. Hormone therapy balances the amounts of estrogen and progesterone in your body. These are usually prescribed in low doses for short periods to prevent other health problems. It is vital to understand that with benefits, hormone replacement therapy has risks as well. Women who take estrogen and progesterone during or after menopause may have a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and dementia.
However, there is evidence that using hormone therapy in early menopause may be beneficial and may not pose as many health risks as researchers once thought. Specific combinations of hormones may also reduce the chances of hormone therapy. If you consider taking hormone replacement therapy to reduce anxiety or hot flashes, talk to your doctor about your medical history to determine if it is right for you.
If hormone replacement therapy isn’t suitable for you, your health care provider may prescribe one of these medications to help relieve your menopausal symptoms:
- Antidepressants (paroxetine and others)
- Anticonvulsants (gabapentin and pregabalin)
- Blood pressure medications (clonidine)
- Antispasmodics (oxybutynin)
Zumba is your friend. Or several quick laps in the pool, if the cool water sounds better. In one study, when researchers tracked hot flashes in postmenopausal women participating in a 16-week cardio exercise program, they found that those who exercised experienced fewer hot flashes. This may be because rapid exercise improved circulation and increased the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
While solid research on the effectiveness of natural remedies for menopausal symptoms is limited, there is some evidence that herbs like black cohosh and evening primrose oil may help reduce the severity of hot flashes. Some researchers have found that acupuncture is an effective treatment for hot flashes, but the evidence is conflicting on whether it works or not. Before trying any natural remedy, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor or health care professional to see if it interferes with any other medications you’re taking.
Dealing with hot flashes can be a little easier if you change certain habits that seem to reinforce or activate them. You can try the following:
- Limit the intake of foods and drinks that trigger them
- Choose cotton or absorbent cloths
- Put cotton sheets on your bed
- Turn on the fan in your room at night
- Stop smoking
Hot flashes and anxiety are two very common symptoms of menopause. If you’re having a hot flash, you may feel anxious — and if you’re nervous about something, you may suddenly feel a hot flash. There are several medical treatments, including hormone therapy, that can reduce hot flashes and anxiety. Non-medical treatments that can prevent anxiety and hot flashes include lifestyle changes, talk therapy, and natural remedies. Menopause, anxiety, and hot flashes are linked, so a multifaceted treatment approach may be needed to resolve symptoms and ease your aging process.
- Anxiety and Hot Flashes: What’s the Relationship Between Them? - June 20, 2022