Difficulty Concentrating
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Difficulty Concentrating

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Distracted woman: hormonal fluctuation during menopause can cause difficulty concentrating

For those women suffering from difficulty concentrating as a result of menopause, this symptom can often feel as though it has come out of nowhere. This may be frightening if it is unexpected. There are a variety of reasons why a woman may experience difficulty concentrating; however for women of menopausal age, hormonal fluctuations that occur naturally during this time period are the most likely suspect.

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

Due to the fact that this symptom, though extremely common, can be subtle, it is helpful to first define what constitutes difficulty concentrating.

Difficulty concentrating is often experienced as the inability to concentrate on everyday as well as 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 are accustomed to possessing the ability to concentrate, and 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 experiencing these characteristics of difficulty concentrating, it is helpful to next learn 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

Difficulty concentrating is a menopause symptom that can creep into every aspect of a woman's day-to-day life. Concentration affects memory, attention span, and the ability to process information, so it's important to do what you can to maximize concentration levels before the symptom impedes upon your well-being.

Difficulty Concentrating Can Lead to Anxiety Episodes

Difficulty concentrating can be inconvenient and disruptive during menopause. With all your various responsibilities throughout the day, the last thing you need is constant forgetfulness and disorientation. Find out why this is happening, how it can escalate to anxiety, and what you can do to improve mental functioning.

Causes of Difficulty Concentrating

Relationship between Estrogen, Neurotransmitters, and Brain activity

While a number of factors may play a role in the incidence of difficulty concentrating, for women undergoing the menopausal transition the most likely cause is hormonal fluctuation. Estrogen in particular plays a key role in the function of the brain, for several reasons.

There are a number of neurotransmitters in the brain which regulate cognitive function, including heightened memory and ability to concentrate. Acetylcholine, serotonin, and norepinephrine have all been shown to regulate 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 higher production increases. Estrogen also stimulates blood flow to the brain.

Related Menopausal 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 menopausal 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

The main cause of difficulty concentrating is attributed to the fluctuations in estrogen that influence neurotransmitter levels in the brain. However, there are a host of other factors that may also influence a woman's level of concentration. If experiencing difficulty concentrating for any combination of the factors listed above, it is beneficial to note that there are indeed treatment options available.

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 get life running smoothly again.

Can Physical Activity Improve my Concentration?

Physical activity can help improve your mental ability if you have a difficulty concentrating as a result of menopause. Find out how menopause may result in a difficulty in concentrating on everyday tasks, as well as how regular exercise may be of benefit. A number of exercises are advised, such as yoga, tai chi and walking.

Treatments for Difficulty Concentrating

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

Salad: a healthy diet rich in brain-friendly nutrients can help with difficulty concentrating

1. Lifestyle changes. Some easy lifestyle tips can help to cope with difficulty concentrating. A healthy diet rich in brain-friendly nutrients like omega-3 and omega-6 (found in fish, walnuts, and other proteins) can help. Cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar will also go a long way towards helping concentration.

Making sure to receive a good night of rest 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 have the same increase on the brain's concentration ability as pharmaceutical stimulants such as Ritalin.

2. Alternative Medicine. If coping methods and simple lifestyle changes aren't working and a woman is still experiencing the frustration of difficulty concentrating, there are further treatment options which are available. Alternative medicines and treatments which address the hormonal imbalance at the source are the most effective method of treatment, particularly when implemented in conjunction with lifestyle changes.

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

Most experts recommend that women who suffer from difficulty concentrating and wish to treat it begin with lifestyle changes, then move onto alternative medicines (ideally combining the two) and finally, look to drugs or surgery if nothing else seems to work. Click on the following link to learn about specific treatments for difficulty concentrating in these three categories.

Difficulty Concentrating: How to Survive a Day at Work

Difficulty concentration can be a difficult menopausal symptom to manage in the office or workplace. However, by re-balancing hormone levels and adopting a number of simple techniques, mental ability and concentration can be improved. Find information on a number of techniques, including organizing your workspace, cutting out caffeine and taking regular exercise.

Sources:
  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. “The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause”. November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • BMJ Group. “Menopause: What is it?” Patient Leaflet. 2007.
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