After trying a range of natural therapies to overcome chronic anxiety, Donna took antidepressants to restore balance in her life. She feels women may need to consider natural remedies alongside conventional treatments to enable them to function.
For Donna, the transition to menopause came on quite suddenly a year ago when she started to have erratic periods, night sweats and feelings of anxiety. Becoming increasingly stressed and exhausted, Donna found herself lacking the patience, tolerance and energy needed to cope with the demands of her young son. She turned increasingly inwards, losing her social confidence and finding excuses not to see friends. Loss of interest in sex, a side-effect of her chronic anxiety, contributed to the breakdown of a relationship.
As an alternative health therapist, Donna was reluctant to take HRT and determined to manage her anxiety and other menopausal symptoms naturally. She decided to take five weeks off work and commit a lot of savings; so that she could give full attention to different therapies and treatments which she hoped would help her overcome her symptoms. These included cranio-sacral massage, cognitive behavioural therapy, acupuncture, yoga and meditation, as well as over-the-counter products such as St John’s Wort and Kalms. However, results were mixed, with none of these treatments making a significant difference to her symptoms in the time available.
Needing a faster solution, Donna saw her GP who prescribed a six-month course of antidepressants (citalopram). She describes her decision to take antidepressants while working as a therapist as a big issue;, yet acknowledges their key role in restoring her mental balance. She speaks about her need to accept that a natural approach is not always enough to deal with symptoms and that women may need to consider natural remedies alongside conventional treatments to enable them to function.
A year after the onset of her symptoms, Donna is free of anxiety, feels really well; and has recently started a new relationship. Deciding to work part-time, she is now more relaxed, self-assured and able to spend more time with her son. Following a consultation with a medical herbalist, she is taking a herbal tonic to support her while going through the menopause.
As well as encouraging women to speak more openly about their menopause experience, Donna believes that children should learn about the menopause at school to help them understand what their mothers are going through.
Donna was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in January 2009.