Women, in their mid-40s and beyond, experience physiological, psychological and social changes that commonly cause a great deal of anxiety. While some women may feel frustrated, overwhelmed and anxious, other may feel sad, nervous and panicky and a fair number may even wonder if they are just going crazy. The good news, you are not going crazy. This stage in a woman’s life is complex; it is overflowing with both internal and external changes all of which, to some degree, cause stress.
While bodies, emotions and hormones are all in various stages of change, women may also have external factors and responsibilities that are shifting too. For example, a woman may be caring for her own children while also taking care of aging parents and perhaps even looking after grandchildren. Retirement and finances come into greater focus during mid-life and health issues may add another layer of change. It is, indeed, a multifaceted and dynamic time for women.
When the body is stressed, it is flooded with chemicals called stress hormones such as adrenaline or epinephrine; these hormones can cause an increase heart rate, muscle tension and rapid breathing. In turn, they may increase the risk of circulatory diseases such as coronary heart disease, sudden cardiac death and stroke. Other physical signs of stress may include fatigue, depression, heartburn, gastrointestinal issues, perspiration, hives, nail biting, over eating or increase use of alcohol, drugs or medications. Fortunately, women, along with their physician, can find ways to cope with these issues and help restore a sense of well-being.
First, it is important for women to know that even though this thing called a midlife transition can feel unfamiliar and taxing, the feelings and the various changes are quite common. It is important for women to be able to recognize their own stress triggers. This typically requires a certain amount of self-awareness. In turn, women need to feel empowered to develop new or different coping mechanisms as they transition to a new stage in life.
I am hosting the Red Hot Mamas Seminar on Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014 at Portneuf Medical Center. This month’s presentation will be about stress and how to manage it. Topics will include focusing on the positive, making time for you, eating right, exercising, being mindful, ways to cope, laughter and much more. Doors open at 6pm; the presentation begins at 6:30. Light refreshments will be served. Space is limited. To reserve a seat, call Portneuf Community Education and Events Line at 208-239-1401.To learn more about Portneuf’s upcoming seminars, including Red Hot Mamas, be sure to like Portneuf Medical Center on Facebook or visit portneuf.org.
To schedule an appointment with Health West ISU Community Health Center, call 208-282-4700.
Dr. Ragan is board certified in family medicine. He attended the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and completed his internship and residency training at Naval Hospital San Diego and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. He served 26 years active duty in the US Navy. He now works at the ISU / Health West Family Medicine Clinic as a primary care physician and as an instructor. Dr. Ragan’s practice focuses on prevention, management of chronic diseases, and coordination of care.