Psychological consequences of menopause

While not directly linked to psychiatric illness1, menopause is likely to be a period of psychological stress for women. Studies have shown that during the perimenopausal and menopausal transitions, women may experience mild anxiety and depression due to hormone changes2, but these changes may not lead to severe depression.
Considering the many responsibilities that women may be dealing with when menopause occurs, added symptoms such as hot flushes or night sweats do not help. As a woman, you may consider that the symptoms (particularly when severe, such as hot flushes) will not allow you to fulfill your tasks at work or at home with your children.



The age at which menopause usually happens is a crucial time in women’s lives when:
– your career is at peak
– you need to deal with children, starting their own adult lives
– you may take care for aging parents
All these experiences place additional stress on women and exacerbate anxiety symptoms4.



This may lead to a sentiment of low self-esteem and, consequently, signs of depression3. Furthermore, many premenopausal women have concerns that they will experience mental instability, sudden signs of aging, and reduced sexuality.1 Women experiencing hot flushes may also have restless sleep with night sweats, which will tend to worsen mood and cognitive symptoms4.

Given what is at stake at the period of life when menopause usually occurs, it is important that women discuss the condition with their families, HCPs, and managers and seek help. Speaking out is the first step toward dealing with the physical and psychological consequences of menopause.

Understanding what is happening, rationalizing it, and receiving proper medical help is important to deal with anxiety, stress, or even depression that might occur during menopause.


Talk to your doctor about the psychological impairments you may experience during this period. Together, you will establish a program that can help you deal with the symptoms.



References
1. Carter D. Depression and emotional aspects of the menopause, B. C. Med. J., 2001; 43(8): 463-466
2. Harvard Women’s Health Watch , Menopause and mental health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/menopause-and-mental-health, Published 2020. Accessed 18 October 2020
3. NHS. Mental health and the menopause, https://www.dpt.nhs.uk/news/mental-health-and-the-menopause#:~:text=In%20addition%20to%20hot%20flushes,often%20be%20mistaken%20for%20depression, Published 2018. Accessed 18 October 2020
4. Hunter M, Smith M. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for menopausal symptoms. Information for women, Post Reprod Health. 2017; 23(2):77-82.

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