Menopause marks the transition of a woman’s body leading to the end of the reproductive years. The period leading to menopause is called perimenopause, and this lasts up to take 4-8 years. The menopausal age differs for each woman; usually, it occurs between 45-55 years old.
During the peri-menopausal period, the woman’s body goes through a lot of changes. This means no more menstrual cycle, and the woman can no longer get pregnant. Some women experience unpleasant symptoms, others may don’t, while others will experience emotional and mental health changes.
Suppose you’re reading this because you think you’re experiencing menopause or your spouse or a family member is going through this period. In that case, this article will give you a better understanding of how menopause affects the mental health of menopausal women.
What Happens to the Hormone Levels During Menopause?
The main thing you need to understand during the menopausal transition is the woman’s body experiences major hormonal changes. The production of the hormones called progesterone and estrogen decreases. Some women may experience anxiety, irritability, and depression.
Does Menstruation Stop During Menopause?
When the woman hasn’t got her period for 12 consecutive months (without bleeding or spotting), the woman has reached menopause. However, during the perimenopausal stage, some women may experience worsen Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
During the pre-menopausal years, here are the menopausal symptoms some women experience. Remember that some women may not experience unpleasant symptoms, while some may experience distressing symptoms.
- Hot flashes: Episodes of flushing, sweating, feeling hot often goes along with palpitations, feeling anxiety, and sometimes chills.
- Night sweats: Heavy sweating that usually occurs at night, which affects sleep.
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood disturbance
- Memory problems
- Emotional distress
- Sexual problems
Body Image Changes or Symptoms during Menopause
- Slowed metabolism and weight gain
- Dry skin and thinning hair
- Loss of breast fullness
Menopause and Changes in Mental Well-Being
The menopause transition phase may be turbulent for some women regarding their emotional and mental state. There are hormonal changes, and the chemicals in the brain change. This may cause some women to have mood swings, feel anxious, or depressed. However, ongoing and severe panic attacks, depression, and anxiety are unusual.
Is It Normal to Feel Anxious Before or During Menopause?
Due to the changes in estrogen and progesterone levels during menopause, this may cause feelings of depression or anxiety. Phases of feeling depressed are expected during menopause. However, frequent and troubling panic attacks, depression, and anxiety are not normal responses of menopause. Some women may develop panic disorders, major depressive disorders, or mood disorders, which need mental health intervention.
What Is the Link Between Menopause and Depression?
The link between depression and menopause is due to the brain’s fluctuations in hormone levels and chemicals. If you feel depressed every day for two weeks or more, this may signify clinical depression.
The symptoms of depression may include changes in sleeping and eating patterns, feelings of sadness, loss of interest in doing activities enjoyed before, unable to function properly with daily activities. If you feel depressed, this may not be the effects of perimenopause; seek help from a therapist right away.
What Causes Depression During Menopause?
- History of or prior episodes of depression
- History of postpartum depression
- Stress at work or home
- Relationship problems
- Poor coping with the life changes
- Emotional symptoms like poor self-esteem
- Poor body image perception
- A bad lifestyle like alcohol intake, poor nutrition, or not exercising
- Existing mental conditions like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
Can Menopause Cause Mood Swings?
Yes, menopause can lead to mood changes, feeling anxious, and feeling fatigued all the time. This is caused by the body undergoing changes in the body’s hormones. Also, due to the night sweats and hot flashes during menopause, there is a lack of sleep, leading to mood swings the next day.
When to Seek Mental Help During Menopause?
It’s time to seek mental help when your depression or anxiety is starting to affect your everyday life and relationships. If the physical symptoms are beginning to affect you, see your doctor right away. Here are some signs that mental treatment is needed:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Depressed mood every day for two weeks for more
- When you have no one to talk to
How to Deal With Menopause?
There are many ways to deal with menopause transition, and there are natural remedies, changes in lifestyle, and other treatment options.
Menopause can be managed easily through your lifestyle. Here are some ways menopausal women can do every day:
- Eat the right foods: Eat many fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods, and foods high in phytoestrogens levels (soy products, soybean, tofu, linseeds, sesame seeds, beans, and flaxseeds).
- Supplement your diet: Drink Vitamin D supplements, black cohosh, phytoestrogens, prebiotics, probiotics, primrose oil, and kava.
- Avoid trigger foods: Limit alcohol and caffeine intake, avoid sugary, spicy, or processed foods.
- Drink 8-12 glasses of water every day
- Maintain a healthy weight by exercising every day
- Practice stress management techniques
- Get enough sleep every day
Your doctor can recommend hormone replacement therapy. It can vary from progestin or estrogen therapy to replace the hormones that are no longer produced in the woman’s body during the menopausal stage. Talk to your doctor to know more.
Mindfulness training helps in addressing stressors and being calm that can set off depression and anxiety. It is a clinically proven technique you can do every day not to get caught up with your negative emotions. It can help women experiencing symptoms of mental illness manage anxiety and improve a person’s overall wellbeing.
Can Therapy Help With My Mental Health During Menopause?
Yes, therapy can help with the mental health of menopausal women. In specific, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help explore and manage negative thoughts and emotions; thus, it is helpful with depression and anxiety. Research suggests that CBT can help with the management of hot flashes and night sweats.
If you need someone to talk to manage your mental wellness, book an appointment with Kentucky Counseling Center now. Remember that this is just a period, this too shall pass, and there are many ways to deal with menopause healthily. If your spouse or a family member is experiencing menopause, now you have a better understanding of what happens during menopause, help her cope, and be there for her.