Menopause and Mental Health – An Overview

Menopause and Mental Health – An Overview

Every woman goes through menopause and experiences the transition differently. Some women may experience the symptoms significantly while others may get through the phase without any noticeable signs. However, reduction in female hormonal levels during menopause not only affects your body but can also impact your mental health considerably.

Menopause lasts for years, and it is not an easy time for women. During this phase, women go through a sea of changes that may interfere with their daily life. While some women may get support from family, others may suffer in isolation, which adds to their frustration and may possibly lead to anxiety and depression.  

Let us understand how menopause can impact your mental health.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the occurrence of depression increases by two-folds during menopause, and the chances of the resurgence of anxiety and depression symptoms also rise. 

Depletion of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and mood disorders

Studies indicate that changes in female hormonal levels interact with the chemicals in your brain and affect your mood. It is found that depletion of estrogen can result in:

  • Physical changes: You may experience tiredness, insomnia, memory loss, night sweats, hot flushes, weight gain, hair loss, sore breasts, and other changes.
  • Emotional Changes: You may experience Irritation, moodiness, sadness, stress, lack of motivation, lack of concentration, and reduced cognitive ability. You may feel happy in one moment and become teary-eyed in a flash.
  • Mental Changes: Experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. In case you have had experience with these mental conditions, the symptoms may resurface.

Menopause and Anxiety

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to fear, apprehension, and stress. It is normal to feel anxious about new situations, new places, new jobs, writing exams, and so on. But, if your feelings of anxiety are severe and last for over months and interfere with your everyday life, then you most probably are suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Studies indicated that the link between menopause and anxiety is less clear. However, evidence shows that women may more likely go through panic attacks (a symptom of anxiety disorder) when they are in the menopausal transition.

In a panic attack, you may tremble, sweat, feel palpitations (disturbed heart rhythm), and shortness of breath. You may experience similar feelings in hot flashes as well, except for shortness of breath. 

If you are suffering from panic attacks, consult with your gynaecologist.

Menopause and Depression

It is normal to feel sad and low at times; but, if you are feeling low all the time around your menopausal transition, it could be depression. 

Many studies have clearly shown the link between menopause and depression. Fluctuating hormonal levels play a vital role in this condition. Other factors that may lead to depression during menopause are:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Past diagnosis of depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Dissatisfaction about life, work, money, and other things
  • Facing stress at home or work
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Feeling negativity towards ageing and menopause
  • Other negative feelings

Seek your doctor’s help if you are feeling these emotions in any stage of menopause. After a thorough examination, your doctor may recommend Estrogen Replacement Therapy, Antidepressant Drug Therapy, or a Consultation with a Trained Therapist. Apart from these therapies, make some lifestyle changes to maintain good mental health during menopause by changing your lifestyle.

Some of the changes you can incorporate in your daily life are:

  • Try and get enough sleep at night.
  • Do regular exercises and get involved in physical activities.
  • Practice meditation, yoga, and other relaxing techniques
  • Quit smoking
  • Seek help from partner, family, and friends

Whether you are suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders, it is best to openly speak about your feelings with your partner and get the needed support. Visit your doctor and seek help. Menopause lasts for years, and it may take a toll on your overall well-being. Do not hide or feel ashamed of your sufferings. It is best to talk about menopause, and related emotional and mental effects and get through the phase happily.