For many women, menopause brings welcome changes, and for equally as many, menopause and perimenopause bring many unwelcome symptoms. For example, some women are happy to stop their monthly periods. But no one enjoys night sweats, thinning hair, and mood swings.
Menopause officially starts when a woman stops menstruating for a full year. In the United States, that happens at the average age of 51. Before menopause begins, most women experience menopause symptoms as their reproductive years wind down. This time before menopause, called perimenopause, starts in your early to late 40s and can last for a decade. Menopause symptoms can then last another four to eight years as your body adjusts to menopause.
Mental health and menopause
There are many mental health issues associated with menopause and many reasons for this association. One of the main reasons that women experience mood swings, depression, and anxiety is due to the fluctuation in hormones that accompanies perimenopause and menopause.
Some research shows that estrogen can help regulate your mood. During menopause, your estrogen levels drop, which leads to menopause-related mood issues. Other common menopause symptoms can contribute to irritability, depression, and moodiness. These symptoms include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes
- A diminished sex drive
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Memory problems
You may also feel anxious and depressed about entering this stage of life. Middle age is often a time when parents become empty nesters and also are dealing with the fragility of their aging parents. All of these issues factor into your mental well-being.
Menopause mental health treatments
Fortunately, there are many ways to combat these mental health challenges. At the Center for Women’s Health, our specialists understand what you’re going through during this period of life and can provide compassionate counsel and support. Depending on your symptoms, treatment options and recommendations may include:
Exercise can help you with many menopause symptoms, including helping you to lose weight, boost your mood, and improve your sleep. It can also help strengthen your bones and ward off osteoporosis, another common health condition associated menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy
Whether you try conventional synthetic hormones or bio-identical hormones, both types can help replenish the estrogen you’ve lost. This balancing of your hormone levels can help you feel more balanced, too.
Low-dose antidepressants can reduce your hot flashes and improve your mood.
Medications such as Gabapentin and Clonidine can help relieve hot flashes.
Vaginal estrogen, in a tablet, ring, or cream form, can help treat vaginal dryness and improve your sex life.
If you’re going through menopause and experiencing mood swings, anxiety, or depression, contact us at the Center for Women’s Health to find out the best treatment options to help you feel like yourself again.