Lorraine Kelly opens up about the anxiety she suffered during menopause

Lorraine Kelly has opened up about suffering from anxiety during the menopause [Photo: Getty]
Lorraine Kelly has opened up about suffering from anxiety during the menopause [Photo: Getty]

Lorraine Kelly has revealed that going through the menopause caused to her to feel as though she was “losing control” and triggered “unbearable” anxiety.  

In her book ‘Shine: Discover A Brighter You by Lorraine Kelly’ the 59-year-old breakfast TV host, who turns 60 this month, revealed that the menopause had a real impact on her life.

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“Things may look glossy in my world, and I know some people see me as this golden girl because I’m on telly and smile a lot, but it makes me laugh because I’ve had struggles just like everyone else,” she admits in the book.

“The menopause crept up on me, to be honest. It probably started when I was around 54 and it got gradually worse and worse, until one day it was unbearable. 

“I just wasn’t coping or enjoying life and was constantly knackered, but I simply couldn’t understand why.”

The television presenter went on to explain that during this period she struggled to get out of bed but would often have to “paint on a smile” for work.

She added that the turning point came on holiday when her husband, Steve Smith, pointed out that she wasn’t acting like her normal self.

"The turning point came on a weekend away with Steve in Spain, which should have been amazing but, like everything else at that time, I just couldn't enjoy it. He told me, 'You're just not yourself, you must find out what's wrong',” she says.

The next day, Kelly said she spoke to TV doctor Dr Hilary, who explained that her anxiety was likely the result of a hormonal imbalance triggered by the menopause. 

“It was such a relief to know what was wrong and I’ve been on HRT for four years, which has really helped,” she said.

“I’m so glad the menopause has been dragged into the light so women don’t have to suffer in silence.”

In an interview with the BBC the presenter, who is about to celebrate 35 years on her morning show, says the menopausal anxiety she was experiencing took her by surprise.

“Five or six years ago, I suddenly felt really overwhelmed and anxious, and I'm not an anxious person. I'm somebody that just gets on with it, and I've usually got a sunny disposition, and I don't know where that went. All the life drained out of me, and I felt very flat,” she said.

READ MORE: Toothache, itchy skin and other surprising symptoms of the menopause

Anxiety is something that can impact women going through the menopause [Photo: Getty]
Anxiety is something that can impact women going through the menopause [Photo: Getty]

So why does the menopause bring on anxiety in some women?

According to Stephanie Taylor, women’s health expert and Managing Director of pelvic healthcare company, Kegel8 the menopause causes the body to go through many changes as a result of falling oestrogen levels.

These can lead to symptoms like hot flushes, vaginal dryness and incontinence,” she explains.

“These changes can not only affect your outward appearance, but they can also take their toll on everyday life and a woman’s personal, professional and sex life too.”

READ MORE: The menopause timeline – what to expect from each stage

Taylor explains that as physical symptoms continue and intensify, some women can feel anxious about going out in public and, like Lorraine, can lose their confidence in doing things they used to enjoy.

“When all these factors are combined, it can leave many women feeling isolated or frustrated,” she adds.

What often contributes to the anxiety is the fact that friends and family may not always understand what women are going through, which means some women may feel they’re not getting the support they need.

“If they’re finding it difficult to cope, it is possible to develop anxiety or depression,” Taylor adds.

Anxiety during the menopause can also be associated with a sudden decrease in confidence, poor concentration, and memory issues which can be a problem for women who are working.  

Recent research by Bupa Health Clinics found that women are taking long term leave from work to accommodate their symptoms; the average being 32 weeks.

“These long periods away from work can also play a part in women feeling anxious if they are worried about losing their job,” explains Dr Samantha Wild, Bupa Health Clinics expert.

READ MORE: What it feels like to go through early menopause at 32

So what can women do if they’re suffering from anxiety brought on by the menopause?

Taylor suggests trying to address the symptoms through positive lifestyle changes.

“Ensure you get adequate sleep, do regular exercise and try relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation to calm the mind,” she says.

Dr Wild says removing caffeine from your diet may also help, as caffeine can heighten the feelings of anxiety.

“Getting outside and increasing the amount of physical exercise you do can also help release some much needed endorphins,” she adds.

If you find these practices don’t work, Taylor advises seeking professional medical advice from your doctor who will be able to listen to how you’re feeling and recommend alternative options.

“Research also suggests menopausal women who smoke are at a higher risk of developing depression compared to non-smokers. If you are currently a smoker, ask your doctor for help quitting and they can provide information about smoking cessation tools,” Taylor adds.

“Whatever you do decide to do, know that help is out there, and you don’t have to go through it alone.”

 

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