Published on 9th January, 2023
Menopause not only affects women’s physical health but also their emotional and mental health. Although menopause is not a mental health condition, women can experience significant changes in mood or anxiety during menopause. This can affect their everyday life. As such, it is important to understand the impact of menopause on your mental well-being, ways to manage symptoms during menopause, and even seek appropriate help during this phase in life.
Menopause is a natural ageing process that typically occurs around the age of 47-55 years old. It is characterized by the absence of periods for more than 12 consecutive months and a permanent loss of menstrual period thereafter. Menopause happens as women’s ovaries age which then results in lower levels of reproductive hormones (e.g. estrogen). Though, it can also be induced surgically in women who have their ovaries or uterus removed.
There are three main stages of menopause:
This is the time when your body starts making its natural transition towards menopause. It typically begins several years before menopause and is the time when the ovaries gradually begin to produce fewer female hormones (estrogen). This typically occurs when women are in their 40s, though it can start in their 30s or even earlier. Women most commonly experience irregular periods that may be lighter or heavier than normal.
This is when it's been a year since your last period, which marks the end of fertility permanently.
This begins when you hit the year mark from your last menstrual period and lasts for the rest of your life.
The menopausal symptoms and their severity differ for each unique individual. However, the first sign of perimenopause usually involves a change in menstruation patterns. This includes irregular and infrequent menstrual bleeding and a change in the length (increase or decrease) of the menstrual period.
Other Physical Symptoms include:
Menopausal symptoms typically go away with time. However, some women may continue to experience menopausal symptoms even after menopause.
Adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle during this transition is imperative for your general health and can even prevent or blunt some of these changes.
Apart from changes in hormonal levels, emotional stressors from life events and the range of physical symptoms can indirectly cause mild and temporary mood changes and anxiety around menopause.
Symptoms related to mental health:
Although it is unlikely for someone with no history of clinical depression or anxiety to suddenly develop a severe case of such disorders during menopause, it is still important to note that some women can still be vulnerable to the effects of menopausal symptoms.
Women with preexisting mental health conditions may find it particularly difficult to manage their mental health and women with previous mental health conditions might also see a resurface in symptoms.
Although Menopause itself is not necessarily stressful, it may occur during times when one may be dealing with other life challenges and feeling overwhelmed. It is important to seek support from mental health professionals and reduce the impact of menopausal symptoms on your daily life.
Apart from Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT), psychological therapy can support with the psychological symptoms. Traditional talk-based therapies, such as Cognitive Behaviorl Therapy, can be helpful in improving one's quality of life as well as finding meaning in this new phase.
CBT is a type of talk therapy that generally helps individuals develop practical ways of managing problems and provides new coping skills and useful strategies. For women experiencing menopausal symptoms, CBT is useful in alleviating menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep problems, and especially anxiety and depressed mood.
Remember that you don’t have to suffer menopausal symptoms alone and seeking professional help can help you relieve menopausal symptoms / make menopausal symptoms more manageable in women.
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