Dr Samantha Wild, Women’s Health Clinical Lead, Bupa
The menopause doesn’t just cause physical symptoms, it can impact your mental health as well. It is often these emotional symptoms that bother women the most.
Everybody experiences the menopause differently and for some people, it can affect their mental wellbeing. You might experience:
- feeling low
- mood swings
- problems with memory and concentration
- low energy and motivation
- panic attacks
- new fears and phobias
- low self-esteem
You might be feeling this way because of the hormonal changes that are happening in your body. But you might also find that living with other symptoms of the menopause is affecting your mental health.
Dealing with symptoms like weight gain, joint pain and hot flushes can be difficult to cope with and may affect your mood. You might also have difficulty sleeping, night sweats and bladder problems that stop you from getting enough rest. These can also contribute to feeling low and stressed. Some women may also become depressed.
You might also feel low, anxious or sad for other reasons. Around the time of the menopause, many people find themselves going through changes in their work life, family life and dealing with bereavement. You might also feel sad about no longer being able to have children or feel worried about getting older.
What help is available?
If the menopause is affecting your mental health, speak to your GP or a healthcare professional.
There are different treatments they might offer you such as:
- hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which can be used to ease the physical and emotional symptoms of menopause
- cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is a type of talking therapy
- antidepressants, which are a type of medicine used to treat depression, that can also help with hot flushes. However it’s important to know that antidepressants should only be used if you have been diagnosed with clinical depression too. They do not work for the mood changes caused by the low hormone levels.
What can I do to look after my mental health?
There are also some things you can do to try and keep yourself mentally healthy when you’re experiencing the menopause.
- Eat regular, healthy, balanced meals and snacks to help keep your blood sugar stable.
- Get some exercise if you can, as it will lift your mood. Try activities like yoga, Pilates or walking to help you to de-stress.
- Try to get into a regular sleep schedule if you can.
- Make sure you aren’t drinking too much alcohol.
- Avoid caffeine if you find it makes you anxious, affects your sleep or triggers your hot flushes.
- Try to do things that you find relaxing, like reading, going for a walk or practising mindfulness.
- Talk to your friends and family about the menopause, if you feel able to, to help them understand what you’re going through.
You can also seek support from mental health organisations if you want to speak to somebody else about how you’re feeling, or to get more information such as: