Menopause, a natural biological process marking the end of a woman's reproductive years, is accompanied by a host of physical changes. However, beyond the physiological aspects, menopause can also significantly impact a woman's mental health. The hormonal fluctuations that occur during this phase can lead to emotional challenges that affect a woman's well-being.
A study conducted in 2022 found 34% of menopausal individuals suffered from depression and anxiety while a further 29% had lost their self-confidence. Even more concerning, a study by the Office of National Statistics found that whilst suicide rates fell in older women aged over 55 years, they have risen by 6% over the last 20 years in women aged 45-54, the age of natural menopause.
Poor mental health can impact greatly on an individual’s life including at home, work and all relationships. Without correct treatment, the individual can spiral into other mental health issues like alcoholism and other addictions, eating disorders, self-harm, etc as well as lead to relationship breakdowns, long-term sickness or job loss.
How can I treat mental health challenges in menopause?
Even though the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, (NICE) guidelines, (2021) state: “Do not routinely offer antidepressants”, many GPs continue to do so. There is no evidence to suggest antidepressants are an effective treatment for low mood in menopause and perimenopause which is due to fluctuating levels of Oestrogen and it is the Oestrogen that needs to be replaced.
Hormone Replacement Therapy, (HRT) is an effective treatment for low mood and anxiety in menopause and perimenopause. By replacing the missing Oestrogen, it can result in raised mood, raised self-esteem and confidence. As a consequence of improving these areas, other symptoms can also be resolved like insomnia and brain fog.
Alternative treatments for mental health challenges in menopause
Other therapies that could help manage these symptoms include yoga, meditation and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, (CBT). Research shows that yoga and meditation can improve mental acuity, memory, learning, accuracy, etc, by helping to reduce stress, improve concentration and promote a sense of peace and well-being.
A recent study of 600 women suffering from psychological symptoms of menopause as well as vasomotor symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats, found symptoms were greatly relieved following sessions of CBT. Participants were given methods to control trigger symptoms breaking through negative thoughts which in turn allowed them to cope with the physical symptoms. It is believed participants in the therapy require only 4-6 sessions to help relieve their symptoms.
An individual must seek treatment for these symptoms and those around her should recognise, support and guide her through this phase to prevent dire consequences from occurring. With the right treatment and therapy, individuals can be supported and assisted through this life transition with minimal impact on life, relationships and work/life balance. No treatment or the wrong treatment can lead to declining mental health and have catastrophic results for the individual and those around her.
If you are struggling with mental health that is linked to menopause get in touch with one of our menopause experts and book in a 1-1 session. You are not alone in how you feel, and we are always here to help you navigate through life's challenges.
Yoga for Better Mental Health – Harvard Health, (2023) www.health.harvard.edu
Antidepressants and Menopause, (2023) www.themenopausecharity.org
BMS Tools for Clinicians, (2023) www.thebms.org.uk
NICE – Menopause Diagnosis and Management from Guideline to Practice, (2022) www.thebms.org.uk
Menopause: Statistics and Trends for 2022/23, (2023) www.vitality-pro.com
An Overview of Menopause and Depression, (2022) www.verywellmind.com
Suicide Rates in Menopausal Age Rise, (2021) www.itv.com
My Story of Hormonal Depression, (2022) www.balance-menopause.com
Can Talk Therapy Help Relieve the Symptoms of Menopause? (2022) www.healthline.com
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Menopause Symptoms, (2023) www.medscape.com
Not Just Hot Flushes: How Menopause can Destroy Mental Health, (2023) www.theguardian.com
Menopause and your Mental Wellbeing, (2023) www.nhsinform.scot
Results of Womens’ Health - “Let’s Talk About It” Surve, (2022) www.gov.uk