As women age, they must go through a life transition called menopause. We’ve all heard about it and are dreading symptoms like night sweats, trouble sleeping, and hot flashes. But, did you know menopause can also affect your mental health?
At Vibrant Woman Health Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, women going through menopause trust Dr. Patricia Nevils to help them look and feel their best during this stage of life. Learn how to navigate your mental health during menopause to live your best life now and in the years to come.
What is menopause?
You’re in menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 months in a row. Leading up to it, your estrogen level keeps dropping, and you stop producing eggs. This time, called perimenopause, can last for a few years until you’re in full menopause. Some women don’t have any symptoms while others gain weight, have trouble concentrating, or have the dreaded night sweats and hot flashes. If you think you’re in menopause, we can do a blood test to check your estrogen levels to be sure.
How does it affect mental health?
Another concern for women is how menopause can affect their mental health. Dealing with the symptoms can be stressful and cause anxiety. If you suffer from hot flashes, for example, you may feel uneasy about going on a date or worry about giving a presentation at work. You may feel sad or depressed when thinking about midlife, become more irritable than usual, or have trouble remembering simple things. You may even have uncontrollable mood swings. If any of these sound like you, you’re not alone.
Preexisting mental health conditions
Sometimes, menopause can cause preexisting mental health conditions to worsen. Estrogen levels may play a part, but no one is sure why. If you’ve been diagnosed with any of these conditions, be sure to let Dr. Nevils know so she can develop the best care plan for you.
- Depression: a lack of interest in regular activities, feeling down often, exhaustion
- Anxiety: extreme worry or fear, panic attacks, heart palpitations
- Bipolar disorder: highs and lows that last more than a day, feeling wired or exhausted
- Schizophrenia: hearing voices, talking to yourself, irrational speech and behavior
Treatments for mental health during menopause
Lifestyle changes like limiting alcohol or caffeine, not doing drugs, eating healthy and exercising, and getting enough sleep may be enough to counterbalance mild depression or anxiety. Sometimes, hormone replacement therapy can help mild depression or mood swings. Talking to a therapist or trusted friends, or joining a support group for women going through menopause, may help alleviate fears about aging and the future. If you’re living with a mental health condition, you may already be on prescription medication. If not, we can provide resources for you.
Going through menopause can be hard enough, but dealing with mental health issues on top of it can seem overwhelming. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Nevils at Vibrant Woman Health Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, to get the supportive care and attention you need. Call us or use our convenient online booking tool.