Will hormone replacement therapy end my feeling of dread?

Ask DR ELLIE CANNON: Will hormone replacement therapy end my feeling of dread?

  • Description of dread describes how people with anxiety that is not rational 
  • Other health symptoms such as depression also associated with menopause
  • Treatment for panic attacks involves therapy sessions to bring it under control

Since I stopped taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) eight years ago, I’ve been waking up with this peculiar feeling of dread. Should I go back on HRT? I am 66 years old.

Although we talk about menopausal symptoms in terms of hot flushes, I see many women in this stage of life suffering with anxiety and insomnia.

Your description of a ‘feeling of dread’ describes very well how people feel with anxiety or panic – literally a feeling of dread that comes over like a wave, which cannot be rationalised.

The question of restarting HRT involves weighing up the benefits versus the risks, says DR ELLIE CANNON (stock image)

Other mental health symptoms such as depression can also be associated with menopause due to the fluctuations in hormones that occur.

Treatment for panic attacks involves therapy sessions, either face-to-face or online, where patients learn mental tricks to help control the problem.

The question of restarting HRT involves weighing up the benefits versus the risks. It may be more appropriate for you to consider treatment specifically targeted to panic, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or a low dose of an antidepressant.

A big lift for elderly health 

Protein shakes and weightlifting are not only for gym fanatics – pensioners should be prescribed them too, according to some surprising new research.

A study in the British Journal Of General Practice found that muscle-strength training and protein supplements boost the health of frail, older adults.

The research is welcome. It is estimated that one million British older adults are malnourished, with many too sick or frail to get to a shop or supermarket. While protein and physical training are important for muscle strength, the study says dietary protein – such as chicken, fish and eggs – work as well as powders.

And strength training needn’t involve weights. A set of gentle exercises such as squats, push-ups on to a wall or standing on tiptoes can maintain muscle strength effectively. Practise these exercises throughout life and you’ll be less likely to run into problems in older age.

After suffering head and neck pain for a year, I was diagnosed with cervicogenic headaches in April and treated with a ‘nerve block’ – but it didn’t work. Will medication help?

Cervicogenic headaches are a type of ache that start in the neck, usually because of problems with the spine.

The pain in the head comes alongside pain at the top of the neck and the base of the skull, with symptoms worsening when you move your neck.

Patients often describe feeling pain much more on one side of the neck, in the shoulder and the arms.

The discomfort may last for days and during this time they will suffer from a steady rather than throbbing type of headache.

These types of headaches are common in people in certain occupations who may hold their neck and head in a set position for long periods of time. They can also be the result of an injury caused by an accident, such as whiplash.

A nerve block – an injection that numbs the neck nerves – is not only a treatment for cervicogenic headache, it is also a diagnostic test.


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If the pain does not go with a nerve block, it may not be cervicogenic headaches causing the pain. In which case other medications are often used to solve the problem.

Treatments include anti-inflammatory or muscle-relaxant medications. But physiotherapy can also be used – stretches and exercises may help a patient regain full movement of their neck and manage the symptoms.

Cervicogenic headaches can be misdiagnosed – the problem may, in fact, be other types of headache such as migraine. If treatments are not working, other types of headache should be considered.

  • Apparently there is ‘insufficient evidence’ to encourage the Government to ban the sale of energy drinks to under-16s. But we don’t need a law to adopt some common sense. It is overwhelmingly clear that caffeinated drinks loaded with sugar contribute to hyperactive behaviour and childhood obesity. Many supermarkets already exercise a ban, but parents must take responsibility too. Not only can they refuse to buy the drinks but, more importantly, they can explain the risks they pose to their children.

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