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Difficulty Concentrating
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Difficulty Concentrating

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.

What is difficulty concentrating

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. 

Symptoms of difficulty concentrating

Click on the following link for more information about difficulty concentrating, or continue reading to learn more about its specific causes.

Focus Disorder: What's Happening & What to Do

A focus disorder like ADD or ADHD is only diagnosed in cases when there is a lack of focus in several areas, including work, home, and social life. If you are experiencing a lack of focus in only one of these areas, you may be simply bored, not suffering from a disorder.

How Can Difficulty Concentrating Affect Your Productivity at Work?

There are a number of factors that can cause an inability to concentrate, including lack of sleep, menopause, and depression. In the workplace, difficulty concentrating can affect productivity, distance you socially and professionally from your colleagues, and may eventually put you at risk of losing your job.

Causes of Difficulty Concentrating

Difficulty Concentrating 2

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.

Causes of difficulty concentrating

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.

Anxiety and Concentration: The Link

Anxiety is more than just a nervous feeling. In many people, heightened states of anxiety can affect them physically, leading even to panic attacks - which can include shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, headache, and rapid heartbeat. Anxiety and panic are directly linked to difficulty concentrating.

Difficulty Concentrating Linked to Anxiety Episodes

Anxiety episodes that occur frequently, consistently, and on a long-term basis could all be symptomatic of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders affect around 18% of American adults. The illness comes with a number of inhibiting symptoms, including difficulty concentrating; this, needless to say, can affect the sufferer's personal and professional

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.

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.

Treating difficulty concentrating

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.

Reading to Overcome Concentration Problems

Zoning out from time to time is normal, but when this occurs on a regular basis, it could be suggestive of a concentration problem. Concentration is vital - both professionally and socially - so it's important to overcome concentration issues. Regular reading offers significant benefits to the cognitive functions and could be key to enhancing conce

Common Medicine for Concentration

While medications can be useful for people with severe concentration problems, lifestyle changes may be more useful for minor focus difficulties, as they have no side effects. A change in diet, an attempt to get better sleep, and increasing the amount of exercise you do can have a beneficial impact on concentration.

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
Difficulty Concentrating

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