Mental health and menopause

It's vital that you don't suffer in silence with your feelings.


How might menopause and perimenopause affect your mental health?

Menopause can take a toll on your mental health. Many of the symptoms of menopause are emotional:

  • Anxiety
  • Low mood & general loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Panic attacks

These symptoms can often be compounded by the other symptoms of menopause such as hot sweats, sleepless nights, vaginal dryness and more.

Finally, the general pressures and strains of midlife - busy careers, parenting, supporting ageing parents and more can all add onto the feelings of overwhelm and poor mental health.

Emotional symptoms which can be a sign of perimenopause

Some of the first symptoms of perimenopause can be emotional ones such as anxiety, low mood and depression. But often women and doctors don’t make the link between these symptoms and menopause.

This was the case for our founder Katie Taylor, who at 43 years old found herself feeling repeatedly low, anxious and teary. 

Katie was misdiagnosed with depression for a number of years, prescribed round after round of antidepressants that did not work, before getting a rightful diagnosis of perimenopause.

Over a third of women going to their GP with symptoms of the menopause are being offered antidepressants. Some 80 per cent of those women said they felt antidepressants were an “inappropriate” treatment for the symptoms they are suffering.

What women want in menopause survey, 2019

That’s why it’s important to make sure you track all of your symptoms to help your doctor to discover whether you are suffering with a mental illness that needs specific treatment, or whether the mental health symptoms you are experiencing are there as part of perimenopause.

You should not usually be offered antidepressants as the first option treatment for menopause - unless you’re unable to take HRT. Antidepressants might be an option for you if you’ve already tried HRT and it’s helped ease your menopausal symptoms but your low mood remains.

Mental illness in menopausal women

Evidence is building that depressive symptoms, and possibly clinical depression, increases in menopause compared to before menopause. There is also an increasing rate of suicides in midlife women which correlates with the age of menopause. 

It’s vital that you don’t suffer in silence with your feelings. 

By getting the right help for your menopause you may be able to improve your mental health. Likewise, if you need treatment for a mental illness this will also help you better cope with your menopausal symptoms.

Your first point of call should be your GP. You might also want to use one of the helpline numbers that we have compiled to help women.

Treatment to help boost your mental health in menopause

It’s really important to consider the options and find the right treatment for you that can help with improving your mental health.

Lifestyle

Good lifestyle choices are key to maintaining good mental health during menopause - just as they are at any other point in our lives. Relaxing exercise such as yoga, or daily walks can help you reduce stress and tension, and reducing alcohol, caffeine and processed foods can help to balance out your mood. 

>>Find out more in our treatment options area.

HRT

The NICE guidelines [link] recommend HRT as the first-line treatment for mood disorder in menopause. That’s because HRT replaces the reduced hormone oestrogen which can play a key role in helping you to feel better emotionally. Testosterone replacement could help renew your energy levels too. 

>>Discover more about both of these in our treatment options area.

CBT

Cognitive behavioural therapy is another treatment option that is recommended by the NICE guidelines as a first line treatment for mood symptoms in menopause. 

>> Find out more about CBT

Mindfulness

Mindfulness may help you to better manage your anxiety. It’s a way of focusing on the moment that you are in, so that you can then work to better control how you react to that moment and what’s happening to you. 

>>Want to give it a try for yourself? Here’s four easy exercises to try at home.

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