During the approach to Menopause and Menopause itself, there are vast changes going on in the body - and the mind. Menopause and mental health issues go hand in hand. Women who are transitioning into menopause are at much higher risk of mood changes, depression, anxiety and general irritability.
On top of that, the period of Perimenopause and Menopause nearly always coincides with huge life changes. Children could be leaving the home, elderly parents may need more care or relationship issues could be coming to a head.
Common Mental Health Issues that Can Be Related to Menopause
The following mental health issues - although common without menopause - are more likely to occur during menopause. They include:
Lack of motivation
Feeling of Hopelessness
Some women only have mild mental health issues due to the changes in the body. The most common being anxiety, tiredness and irritability. But if these symptoms are severe and last for more than a two week period, this is known as a 'Major Depressive Episode' and needs urgent medical intervention. And women who have a history of mental health issues in the past are far more likely to experience a Major Depressive Episode.
Keeping a diary of your feelings and symptoms is a great way to identify any triggers, and is a handy record for your medical practitioner.
How Does Menopause Affect a Woman's Mind?
The changes in hormones during menopause can have a significant effect on your mental health. These effects can be mild - or extreme. In fact there is a syndrome called 'Menopause Associated Psychosis' or 'MAP' that is triggered in a small amount of women when there is a sudden decline in reproductive hormones.
So menopause and mental health are very closely related.
Natural Mental Health Treatments for Menopause?
There are many and different treatments for mental health issues caused by menopause. Non-medical treatments can include:
Making Time for Self Care
Women often put themselves last. But you can't pour from an empty cup. Make time to do something just for you, every single day. That self-care could be exercise, catching up with friends, or just having a quiet cup of tea in the garden. Anything you can do that makes your mind calm is self-care - and that looks different for every woman.
Mindfulness is taking time each day to appreciate what you have in your life. It is 'reinforcing' in your mind that you do have people in your life that love you, and turning negative thoughts into positive ones.
There are loads of fantastic apps that help you practice mindfulness in different forms - so try a few to find the one that works well for you and your situation. Here are our recommendations:
Exercise is excellent for mental health, excellent for keeping your weight in check, and excellent for self care. A 30 minute walk per day is all it takes to look after both your mind and your body.
If you reduce your alcohol intake, get enough sleep, eat well and exercise regularly, this will not only improve any mild mental health issues, but will easy any menopausal symptoms you may be experiencing such as hot flushes and night sweats.
Medical Treatments for Menopause Induced Mental Health Issues
There are many medical treatments available - but it is finding the right combination. Treatments include:
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone Replacement Therapy or Menopause Hormone Therapy is the process of 'topping up' your estrogen levels to ease the symptoms of menopause. As hormone fluctuations can cause anxiety and mild depression, HRT can really help some women improve their quality of life, and their mental health. Even though there are risks with HRT, the medical fraternity quote that the benefits of hormone replacement therapy outweighs the rare side effects which can include blood clots and heart disease.
A low dose antidepressant can really help women with low moods, irritability and anxiety. As well as improving moods, antidepressants have also shown to reduce menopausal hot flushes. Speak to your GP to see if you are a good candidate for antidepressants.
Studies have shown that psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness and relaxation techniques can improve mood and help with minor mental health issues.
The onset of menopause can certainly affect a woman's mental health. Looking after your mind is just as important as looking after your body. Always speak up about mental health and seek help - early intervention is often the most effective.
Where to Seek Help:
If you are experiencing severe mental health issues, depression, have suicidal thoughts are just need some help - here is where to reach out:
Beyond Blue: Phone 1300 224 636
Australian Psychological Society (Find a Psychologist Service): Ph: 1800 333 497
Lifeline: Ph: 13 11 14
Contact your GP
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Peree provides a rich source of knowledge on the topic of Menopause
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