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Difficulty Concentrating
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Difficulty Concentrating

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For those women who are experiencing difficulty concentrating as a result of menopause, this symptom can often be confusing, even unsettling. There is a variety of reasons why a woman may experience difficulty concentrating. For most women, however, it is typically due to hormone fluctuations that occur during menopause.

Learn more about difficulty concentrating, its causes, and the treatment options in order to gain back control of one's own sense of focus.

About Difficulty Concentrating

While difficulty concentrating is an incredibly common symptom, it can be subtle at times. For this reason, it is important to know the common characteristics of difficulty concentrating.

Difficulty concentrating is defined as the inability to concentrate on everyday tasks or unusual or complex tasks. Along with this, women may experience disorientation, general forgetfulness, and lost trains of thought.

This can be a cause for concern for many women who typically possess the ability to concentrate, and it may lead to problems in the workplace or in a woman's personal life. In addition, women may feel some concern that this is an early sign of more serious conditions such as Alzheimer's.

To ease concerns about difficulty concentrating, it is beneficial to know what the exact characteristics are.

Characteristics of difficulty concentrating

Common Characteristics of Difficulty Concentrating

  • Lost train of thought
  • Disorientation
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to concentrate for long periods of time
  • Inability to focus on complex tasks

The box on the right shows the most commonly experienced characteristics of difficulty concentrating. A menopausal woman may notice one or several of these signs to varying degrees of intensity.

If a woman is experiencing these characteristics of difficulty concentrating, it is helpful to understand why they are occurring. Click on the following link for more information about difficulty concentrating, or continue reading to learn more about its specific causes.

Difficulty Concentrating Guide

Struggling to concentrate is one of the lesser known symptoms of menopause, even though it's one that impacts a woman's life on a day-to-day basis. Read on to understand why many women experience difficulty concentrating during perimenopause, and discover what can be done to maximize concentration.

Difficulty Concentrating Can Lead to Anxiety Episodes

Difficulty concentrating, though a common occurrence during menopause, can be irritating at the best of times. But when it progresses into anxiety episodes, it can have a negative impact on your daily life. Find out more about how to manage these symptoms through simple, subtle lifestyle changes.

Causes of Difficulty Concentrating

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While a number of factors can trigger difficulty concentrating, hormone fluctuations are typically why this occurs during menopause. Estrogen in particular plays a key role in the numerous brain functions.

There are several neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate cognitive function, including normal memory and the ability to concentrate. Acetylcholine, serotonin, and norepinephrine have all been shown to influence cognitive abilities. If there is a shortage in these neurotransmitters, there may be a decrease in cognitive function, leading to difficulty concentrating

Estrogen has an effect on the production of all three of these neurotransmitters. When estrogen levels are adequate, production is more stable.

Related Menopause Symptoms

  • Sleep disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Pain disorders
  • Hot flashes

In addition to the primary hormonal causes behind difficulty concentrating, many women may have concentration issues that stem from other menopause symptoms. Sleep disorders and fatigue can render a woman too exhausted to concentrate properly on daily tasks at hand. Psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or panic disorders can also have a hand in difficulty concentrating. When a woman is under stress, she may not be able to focus to the best of her ability.

Other Causes of Difficulty Concentrating

  • Natural aging
  • Hyperactivity disorders
  • Drug use
  • Poor nutrition
  • Neurological disorders

Difficulty concentrating is mainly attributed to the fluctuations in estrogen that influence neurotransmitter levels in the brain. However, there are many contributing factors that can influence a woman's level of concentration. Fortunately, there are many different treatment options available for managing this symptom.

Click on the following link to find more information about the causes of difficulty concentrating, or read on to learn more about ways to overcome difficulty concentrating to regain control.

Can Difficulty Concentrating Lead to Mood Swings?

Difficulty concentrating is one if the lesser-known woes of menopause, characterized by short attention span and short-term memory issues. The symptom can have a number of effects, especially upon mood. Abrupt and extreme changes in mood, known as mood swings, are a likely side effect, and these can make concentration issues worse.

Underlying Causes of Difficulty Concentrating

Many people experience problems concentrating at some point. This can happen in the form of losing your train of thought or not being able to focus at work. Problems concentrating could be caused by anything from boredom, to fatigue, to certain nutritional deficiencies. Click here to learn more about underlying causes for problems concentrating.

Difficulty Concentrating Treatments

To treat this problematic symptom, a three-tiered approach can be utilized. It is recommended to start with the least invasive option, and then move towards more drastic measures if necessary.

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1. Lifestyle changes. Some easy lifestyle tips can help sufferers cope with difficulty concentrating. A healthy diet rich in brain-friendly nutrients like omega-3 and omega-6 - found in fish and walnuts, for example - can help. Cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar can also help improve concentration.

Getting better quality of sleep goes a long way as well. Stress-relieving techniques like meditation or yoga are also helpful in aiding a woman's ability to concentrate, and brain exercises such as crossword puzzles can improve overall focus.

Did You Know?

Intense aerobic exercise can increase brain volume in older adults.

2. Alternative medicine. If coping methods and simple lifestyle changes are not working and a woman is still experiencing difficulty concentrating, there are further treatment options available. Alternative medicines that address the hormonal imbalance at the source are the most effective treatment method, particularly in conjunction with lifestyle changes.

3. Medications. For more serious incidences of difficulty concentrating, increasingly drastic measures can be taken, but they should always be undertaken with the help of a medical professional.

Women who wish to improve their concentration should begin with lifestyle changes, then move onto alternative medicines, and finally, consider medications if nothing else seems to work. Click on the following link to learn about specific treatments for difficulty concentrating in these three categories.

Finding Help for Difficulty Concentrating

Difficulty concentrating is an issue that often plagues women approaching menopause. Hormonal changes can affect attention span and short-term memory, creating concentration difficulties that are characterized by mental fogginess and distraction. Though the symptom is primarily internal, there is help available to deal with it.

How to Increase Concentration

Concentration problems plague many women during menopause, because of the effects hormonal changes can have upon attention span and short-term memory. Needless to say, difficulty concentrating can have a number of detrimental effects, but following a plan tailored to maximize concentration can help improve productivity; with time, good concentration habits will become second nature.

Sources:
  • Colcombe, S.J. et al. (2006). Aerobic exercise training increases brain volume in aging humans. The journals of gerontology, 61(11), 1166-1170. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17167157
  • Food and Drug Administration. (2010). Coping with Memory loss. Retrieved May 5, 2016, from http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm107783.htm
  • Henderson, V.W. (2008). Cognitive Changes after Menopause: Influence of Estrogen. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 51(3), 614-626. doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e318180ba10
  • Greendale, G.A. , Derby, C.A. & Maki, P.M. (2012). Perimenopause and Cognition. Obstetrics and gynecology clinics of North America, 38(3), 519-535. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2011.05.007
  • Kulzow, N. et al. (2016). Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Memory Functions in Healthy Older Adults. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 51(3), 713-725. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150886
  • Matsuda, Y. , Hirano, H. & Watanabe, Y. (2002). Effects of estrogen on acetylcholine release in frontal cortex of female rats: involvement of serotonergic neuronal systems. Brain Research, 937(1-2), 58-65. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12020863
  • Uchida, S. & Kawashima, R. (2008). Reading and solving mental arithmetic problems improves cognitive functions of normal aged people: a randomized controlled study. Age, 30(1), 21-29. doi: 10.1007/s11357-007-9044-x

General articles

Updated on Apr 15, 2016
How to Combat Difficulty Concentrating in Menopausal Women
Concentration is a vital function that's needed in many aspects of daily life, from the workplace to other activities, like driving or reading the newspaper. During menopause, hormonal imbalances affect the cognitive functions, which may result in difficulty concentrating. Keeping the brain stimulated, plus other simple lifestyle changes, could help combat concentration issues.
Updated on Mar 25, 2015
How to Recognize a Lack of Concentration Due to Menopause
An inability to concentrate and a growing tendency to be forgetful aren't just symptoms of old age. Instead, hormonal changes brought about by the menopause transition can also be to blame in some cases. To learn more about the phenomenon and its potential treatments, read on.
Updated on Oct 12, 2011
Difficulty Concentrating: How to Survive the Work Day
Difficulty concentrating is a very common symptom of menopause, affecting two out of three women. It can make staying focused at work a challenge. Women should try adjusting their lifestyles and habits at work by getting more exercise, keeping a tidy work space, drinking water, engaging their minds, and reducing stress in the evening.
Updated on Oct 11, 2011
Can Physical Activity Improve my Concentration?
Research has shown that regular exercise improves concentration and memory in women. Exercise helps improve memory by increasing the amount of compounds in the body that protect and increase the growth of neurons. Click here to learn more about the relationship between exercise and memory.
Updated on Jul 01, 2011
7 Lifestyle Changes to Improve Concentration Skills during Menopause
The menopause comes with a collection of symptoms that many women find intensely uncomfortable and disruptive. One symptom that can have a significantly negative impact on daily life is memory loss. For information on how to counter this troubling condition read on.