facing the inevitable

The person who said, “There are only two certainties in life — death and taxes,” was obviously a man. For women, menopause is also an inescapable certainty.

Physiologically, menopause marks the end of your menstrual cycle. Physically, you may experience vaginal dryness, hot flashes and night sweats, chills, irregular sleep patterns, weight gain, thinning hair, dry skin, loss of breast fullness, “brain fog,” and mood changes.

The stigma surrounding menopause, while stupid, is real and can lead to isolation that may enhance the emotional challenges of menopause.

The bottom line is menopause sucks, and the emotional strain menopause can cause, especially if you have a pre-existing mood disorder, is real and should be taken seriously.

menopause and mental health

what’s normal vs. when it’s “something else”

Feeling sad or depressed, irritable, anxious, stressed out, forgetful, and fatigued are all typical mood changes related to menopause’s hormone changes. You should consult with your healthcare provider to evaluate your symptoms to ensure what you’re feeling isn’t out of the ordinary.

If you have a pre-existing mental health disorder, menopause may worsen symptoms, and you should consult with your mental healthcare provider to monitor your condition.

  • Research suggests women who experienced severe PMS and/or postpartum depression may have more severe mood swings during menopause.
  • If you are being treated for depression, or have been treated in the past, be aware that your symptoms can worsen during menopause.
  • If you live with Bipolar Disorder, menopause can lead to more depressive episodes than those without. This is likely to be linked to the decrease in the estrogen, which naturally happens during menopause.
  • Women with pre-existing schizophrenia may experience worsening conditions, and medical attention should be sought.

This is by no means a definitive list, and if you have any concerns about your emotional health, seek help from a mental healthcare provider.

“The changes, the highs and the lows, and the hormonal shifts, there is power in that.”

– Michelle Obama

take care of yourself

what you can do

Self-care during menopause means looking out for your mental and physical health.

  • Nutrition & Exercise: An unfortunate side-effect of menopause can be weight gain. You might yourself eating less and exercising more just to maintain your weight! More whole foods and lean protein (chicken and fish) in your diet can not only help with your weight, but it can also help your brain!
  • Keep Cool: Wearing lighter, breathable fabrics and lowering the thermostat can help limit the effects of hot flashes. Drinking a lot of water can also help your body better regulate its temperature while also easing bloating and dry skin.
  • Get Good Sleep: Easier said than done if you’re experiencing night sweats, right?! Try going to bed earlier, keep your bedroom cool, and wear comfortable PJs. If you’re sleeping patterns get severely disrupted, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Talk It Out: Get connected and stay connected with friends and loved ones to limit feelings of isolation. Better yet, talking to a therapist is a great way to help you not only talk it out, but it can give your coping mechanisms to help you through the rough patches.

To help you better manage your symptoms, talk to a mental healthcare provider or your OB/GYN to discuss ways to help you manage your symptoms.

To learn more about different mental health conditions and their symptoms, visit the mental health definitions page.

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