Several women experience anxiety when they enter the phase of life where the menstrual cycle stops. Some women going through the “change of life” also find that they are scared to get behind the wheel and are dubbed “bad drivers.”
“Driving was once a simple task for these women, but they’re now fearful for their lives or the lives of their loved ones even when there are no signs of danger on the road.”
Driving was once a simple task for these women, but they’re now fearful for their lives or the lives of their loved ones even when there are no signs of danger on the road. Bouts of anxiety are not a standard symptom of this life change, but according to Dr. Lilian Gonsalves, it’s important to know that mood swings and feelings of anxiousness could be linked to hormonal changes.
The menopause symptoms that are indicative of this hormonal change in a woman’s life can cause symptoms like low sex drive and hot flashes. Some women also have memory and concentration issues and can develop anxiety and insomnia as their hormones naturally change due to the menopausal phase.
Menopausal women have also reported feeling a lack of confidence in completing everyday tasks due to panic attacks. These symptoms are also why menopause is making women scared to drive, since a number of women going through this significant hormonal change find that they are much more anxious behind the wheel.
“A study conducted by the University of Melbourne revealed that women’s memory, concentration levels and ability to complete ordinary tasks reduced by as much as 40 percent in women who are menopausal.”
Medical Science and Research
GP Dr. Louise Newson from the Newson Health Menopause and Wellness Centre states that she hears about this type of anxiety often. Dr. Newson states that these menopause symptoms cause women to feel overwhelmed or anxious for no rational reason. Menopausal women will often report that they begin to panic about things they aren’t normally concerned about, and driving is a common example of this.
“mood changes and anxiety can cause women to lose focus, which makes driving a tedious process when it was once an automatic process.”
This notion is backed by science as well. A study conducted by the University of Melbourne revealed that women’s memory, concentration levels and ability to complete ordinary tasks reduced by as much as 40 percent in women who are menopausal, which contributes to why menopause is making women scared to drive.
Professor of clinical neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge Barbara Sahakin asserts that many menopausal women are afraid to drive because they fear they’ll lose control at the wheel. Professor Sahakin states “symptoms such as hot flashes can happen without warning and if it happens when you’re driving, that can be hugely stressful since you become distracted.” The professor further states that mood changes and anxiety can cause women to lose focus, which makes driving a tedious process when it was once an automatic process.
The Fear Of Driving-Induced Panic Attacks
The body has a “fight or flight” response during a panic attack. Adrenaline courses through the body and causes muscle tension and a faster heart rate. The lungs start taking in additional oxygen which leads to rapid breathing, and people who are experiencing a panic attack may also begin to sweat even if they’re not moving. In people with anxiety, the fight or flight response happens at random times and without an event to provoke the response.
In most cases, panic attacks are only a few minutes but can be horrifying; some individuals even feel like they’re having a heart attack. The amount of women who tell Professor Sahakin they’ll suddenly experience anxiety or fear when driving is astounding; many of these women don’t even want to get in their cars anymore. This fear could significantly affect the things that women need and want to do on a daily basis.
Fears related to driving and other common tasks can become more intense over time and women will sometimes start to develop irrational fears. It can be difficult to distinguish between anxiety and fear and to know whether these fears and anxieties are substantial. Some menopausal women start to fear for their lives when driving or thinking about their families when getting behind the wheel. The anxiety can make women feel as though something horrific will happen to them or their loved ones while they’re driving or away from home.
“Women in their 40s and 50s should also increase their water intake daily, since dehydration can affect the nervous system and worsen anxiety.”
One of the best things women can do when it comes to reducing anxiety is to increase estrogen when necessary. Support groups where women can talk to others going through similar struggles can also be helpful. There are also several calming herbs like ashwagandha what can reduce anxiety and calm the nervous system.
As far as vitamins go, it’s important for women going through this life change to get enough B vitamins and magnesium. Women in their 40s and 50s should also increase their water intake daily, since dehydration can affect the nervous system and worsen anxiety.
Women who are experiencing anxiety and panic attacks every day can also consider emotional freedom techniques (EFT) as well as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). These treatments can teach women to gain control of their feelings and feel more comfortable driving.
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