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mental health during menopause

mental health during menopause

changes in your hormones during menopause can impact your mental health

Menopause is a uniquely personal experience, with every individual undergoing it in their distinct way. As menopause marks the conclusion of menstruation and a reduction in reproductive hormone production, it often leads to various physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms collectively play a significant role in affecting one’s mental health and everyday life.

In a recent CIPD report, it was found that 27% of women going through menopausal symptoms perceived a detrimental effect on their careers. Almost 80% reported diminished concentration at work, while nearly 70% noted an uptick in stress levels. Encouragingly, more than half of those who felt supported by their employers during this phase reported a noticeable decrease in workplace pressure and stress. 

Whilst menopause’s timing and symptoms may differ from person to person, understanding its potential impact on mental health is essential. Identifying these difficulties and seeking suitable support and management can help you cope with menopause with greater resilience and wellbeing.

Common myths about menopause

menopause is
an illness or a medical condition

It is a natural biological process that represents the end of a woman’s reproductive years. While it comes with its unique challenges, it’s a normal phase of life. 

menopause only affects women in their 50s

Menopause’s timing varies among individuals. It typically occurs in the late 40s to early 50s, but it can happen earlier due to medical conditions or surgery. Premature menopause can affect women in their 30s or even younger. 

menopause is the same for every woman

Menopause is a highly individualised experience. Factors like genetics, lifestyle, and overall health can influence the timing and severity of symptoms. Some women may go through menopause with minimal discomfort, while others may face more challenges. 

menopause is just about hot flashes and night sweats

While hot flashes and night sweats are common menopausal symptoms, menopause encompasses a wide range of physical and emotional changes.

menopause only impacts physical health

It can have noticeable effects on mental health too. Hormonal changes during menopause can lead to mood swings, anxiety and depression. Both the physical and emotional aspects of menopause should be addressed to maintain overall wellbeing.

menopause means
the end of a fulfilling
sex life

While menopause may bring changes in libido and physical response, communication, adaptation and seeking medical advice can help maintain a satisfying sex life.

Causes of menopause

Menopause differs based on the individual. However, it is commonly caused by these two factors: 

  • Natural ageing process: Menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life characterised by a decline in reproductive hormones, particularly oestrogen and progesterone. This hormonal change leads to the onset of menopause and its related effects. 
  • Ovarian reserve depletion: The depletion of the ovarian reserve, unique to each woman, is a key contributor to menopause. As this reserve decreases, hormonal production becomes irregular, causing the hallmark symptoms of menopause. This can be engendered by surgery or therapy. 

Symptoms of menopause 

Symptoms of menopause can vary widely from person to person, making it essential to recognise that everyone’s journey through this life stage is unique. Nevertheless, several symptoms are commonly associated with menopause, including: 

  • Hot flashes: Sudden and intense sensations of heat, often accompanied by sweating and a rapid heartbeat. 
  • Night sweats:  Hot flashes occur during sleep, leading to disrupted and restless nights. 
  • Mood swings: Emotional fluctuations that can range from irritability and anxiety to feelings of sadness or even euphoria. 
  • Sleep disturbances: Difficulty falling or staying asleep, often linked to night sweats and mood swings. 
  • Vaginal dryness: Reduced vaginal lubrication, which can cause discomfort during intercourse. 
  • Changes in sexual desire: Fluctuations in libido, which can impact sexual relationships. 
  • Bone health: A decrease in bone density, potentially leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis. 

Mental health during menopause 

Menopause brings a range of symptoms that can significantly impact mental wellbeing and day-to-day life. Whether you’re personally going through this transition or supporting someone who is, understanding its potential effects on mental health is essential. Here are some common mental health conditions associated with menopause: 

  • Anxiety: The physical changes associated with menopause may trigger concerns about how others perceive you, potentially affecting your mental well-being. 
  • Depression: Hormonal fluctuations can lead to prolonged periods of low mood, contributing to feelings of depression. 
  • Loneliness: The unique challenges of menopause may lead to feelings of isolation, making it seem like no one truly understands what you’re going through and leading to social withdrawal. 
  • Stress: Coping with the various physical and emotional changes during menopause can create a sense of emotional pressure and stress. 
  • Eating Disorders: Some individuals may attempt to regain control over their changing bodies by trying to manage their diet. 

How to support your mental health during menopause?

Navigating mental health challenges during menopause can feel daunting and isolating. You’re not alone in your struggles; many people identified as women have experienced similar feelings, and support is available to guide you.

Here are some things you can do: 

  1. Self-awareness and self-care: Recognise and understand the signs and symptoms of menopause. Self-awareness can help you manage the physical and emotional changes more effectively, whilst healthy eating, regular exercise, and adequate sleep will positively impact your energy level and mood.
  2. Stress management techniques: Use techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga. These practices can help manage stress and anxiety associated with menopause.
  3. Communicate with others: Openly discuss your menopausal experience with your healthcare provider, as they can provide guidance and potential treatments to alleviate symptoms. Connect with coworkers or support groups within or outside the workplace to share experiences and coping strategies.
  4. Talk to your employer: If applicable, talk with your employer or HR department about your menopausal symptoms. Share your needs and any accommodations that might help you perform your best at work. 

support

Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies. 

Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at advice@changemh.org or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page. 

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