On our questionnaires, fatigue is listed as one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Obviously, if you are suffering sleep deprivation as a result of hot flashes, you will feel tired. If you are experiencing stress, you may also feel fatigued. Before you decide that your fatigue is a menopausal symptom, it is important that you and your physician rule out any other physical or psychological reasons for your fatigue.
Does stress increase menopausal symptoms? Stress can make everything worse. If you’re nervous, anxious, irritable, or somewhat depressed as a result of menopausal symptoms, other stresses just compound the problem. Lack of sufficient sleep due to stress or to hot flashes can make life’s negative stresses worse. It’s a vicious cycle: Decreased estrogen may make you more vulnerable to stress, and stress can exacerbate menopausal symptoms. Pinpointing the origins of symptoms is a job for the patient/physician partnership. Once you and your doctor have sorted out the sources of your negative stresses, be they social, environmental, or physiological, you need to work toward eliminating as many of them as you can. Chapter 13 will offer tips for stress reduction.