Mental Health & The Menopause
Of course there are the physical symptoms - the hot flushes, the thinning hair, the weight gain (we could go on…) - but there are also a whole bunch of menopausal side effects that you can’t see. We’re talking about the impact that the menopause can have on your mental health - something that will be all too familiar to anyone that’s going through it.
Many women report emotional stress during perimenopause and menopause. It might feel like you’re imagining it or you’re the only one going through this, but that’s certainly not the case. One of the main reasons you might be experiencing a low mood - or even symptoms of depression and anxiety - are the hormonal changes you are going through.
As we enter perimenopause our production of estrogen and progesterone slows right down. This can happen in an imbalanced and irregular pattern which means you might find yourself feeling like a hormonal teenager even if you’re well into your 40s or 50s! We’ve definitely found ourselves slamming doors and flying off the handle on more than one occasion... These hormones are also intrinsically interlinked with mood boosting hormones such as serotonin, so it’s no surprise that mental health can take a hit when these hormones are depleted. Aside from mood swings, it’s common to feel irritable, anxious, stressed, sensitive and in some extreme cases depressed and suicidal.
Losing your sense of self
But it isn’t just the hormonal changes that could be affecting your mental wellbeing. When menopause comes to town it brings it’s old pals ‘shame’ and ‘isolation’ with it. Whilst menopause is definitely not the taboo it once was, it is still a topic that many women find difficult to talk about. This silence can make things feel a whole lot worse if you’re feeling down.
The emotions that come along with this phase of life are complex. We know that women can be fabulous at any age, but being given such a stark reminder of your own ageing process can be tough. Couple that with a loss of libido, broken sleep and body image issues, and it’s a perfect storm for feeling down on yourself. Low self esteem and losing your sense of self can have a huge impact in your mental health during the menopause - but that’s why self care and self love are so important at this time - which is something the BP3 community is all about..
Support and self care
However, like all symptoms of the menopause - you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are many things you can do to not only tackle the hormonal and physical changes you’re going through, but to readjust your mindset so you can navigate the menopause with a positive outlook. When you’re in the midst of a dark time it can be hard to see the light, but we promise there is always a way to get back to joy and positivity - you just need to know where to find it.
Firstly, do not be afraid to reach out for professional help if you notice the menopause is impacting your mental wellbeing. Doctors can prescribe medication, such as HRT, to help regulate your hormones. Therapists and counselors can help you navigate mental health challenges you don’t feel capable of tackling alone. There is no shame in admitting you need help and professionals will be able to help you get back on the right track.
There are also things you can do at home to help transform your mood. For us, exercise has been key to feeling good even when the hormonal odds are stacked against us. Getting a workout in each day not only gives your endorphins a boost, but it can help to beat feelings of lethargy and fatigue that are common with the menopause and make you feel rubbish. A good night’s sleep is also gold dust when it comes to looking after your mental health. Night sweats and insomnia plague menopausal women, but taking steps like limiting your caffeine intake and screen time when bedtime draws closer can make a huge difference to your quality of sleep.
Time to Talk
But the most important thing when it comes to your mental health, is talking about it. It can be hard, to admit that you are struggling emotionally - especially if your partner and family don’t quite empathise with your situation. But, opening up about your feelings will release that pressure valve of negative emotions and make you feel less isolated.
You are never alone in facing the challenges that the menopause can bring - be they physical, mental or emotional. There is a whole community of women out there who understand how hard this can be and who can offer advice, a shoulder to cry on or inspiration that will help you get through it. And on the good days, they’ll be there to show you how much joy can be found in this phase of life - because there is bucketloads if you just remember where to find it.
If you are struggling with your mental health don’t hesitate to reach out to your GP or helpines such as The Samaritans