Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!
Mental health is important at every stage of life.
Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years, typically between the ages of 45 and 55. Menopause is associated with various physical AND emotional changes that can impact a woman’s well-being.
Some women experience mood changes, anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating during menopause. Menopause can be the tipping point between waking up with a smile and pulling the covers over your head!
From age ten until our 60s, we’re dealing with changing hormone levels at least once a month or for more extended periods. Pun intended. Lucky us. Eve Ensler reminds us that being an emotional creature is one of the things that make us the strong, beautiful, intuitive human beings that we are:
“This is not extreme.
It’s a girl thing.
What we would all be if the big door inside us flew open.
Don’t tell me not to cry.
To calm it down.
Not to be so extreme.
To be reasonable.
I am an emotional creature.
It’s how the earth got made.
How the wind continues to pollinate.
You don’t tell the Atlantic Ocean to behave.”
Many days we won’t feel as unstoppable as the Atlantic Ocean, and that’s fine. Eve is a poet, a writer, and a woman. She was using hyperbole to remind us of our greatness.
Let’s Breakdown (no pun intended) the Cause of This Hormonal Flux:
Women are likely in “hormonal flux” states at puberty, premenstrual, postpartum, and during perimenopause and menopause. Someone should invent a lubricant or a cocktail called “Hormonal Flux.”
During your menopausal journey, estrogen levels begin to plummet. These fluctuations affect serotonin (a chemical messenger that acts as a mood stabilizer) and norepinephrine (also called adrenaline and behind our fight-or-flight response), influencing our mood and behavior. This hormonal roller coaster may help to explain why you might be grumpy, unusually depressed, irritable, anxious, hypersensitive, have erratic mood swings, and feel lonely. Yet, all you want is to be left alone.
When we are in the later stages of mid-life, we also may face many additional changes, such as loss of the older generation’s members, dealing with not ever having children or having children leave home, reaching a plateau at work or other workplace stresses. There are sexual changes that may occur in intimate relationships that may trigger us.
According to the North American Menopause Society, “Studies show that mood changes have been observed in up to 23% of peri- and postmenopausal women. Additionally, symptoms of anxiety—tension, nervousness, panic, and worry—are reported more frequently during perimenopause than before it, regardless of whether symptoms of depression are present or not.”
Here Are the Top 4 Ways to Impact Your Mental Well-Being:
- Find a Menopause Specialist – If you don’t have one, I have some great tips here: Tips on How to Find a Menopause Specialist. Download my free Menopause Symptoms Chart – to help you chart those menopausal symptoms. Take this chart in with you to your Menopause Specialist. It will help you describe how you feel. Your specialist will be able to create an individual protocol for you.
- Consider Hormone Therapy – Balancing menopausal hormones is essential to feeling better. Often, women find that hormone replacement therapy, as recommended by their specialist, is enough to get them in top shape. If there is a need for further evaluation by a psychiatrist who might prescribe antidepressants, those meds work more effectively once hormonal levels are closer to normal, especially estrogen.
- Make Some Lifestyle Changes – Do not self-medicate with increased alcohol consumption. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can have a positive impact on well-being during menopause. Simple lifestyle changes such as: eating a balanced diet, staying physically active, getting enough sleep, and managing stress may make a world of difference in your mental health. Additionally, some women find that complementary therapies, such as yoga and acupuncture, can help manage symptoms. I tried meditation and love it!
- Seek Support from Loved Ones – Break open the conversation with your family and friends so they understand and can support you through this hormonal roller coaster. Communication is critical to healthy relationships.
If you don’t feel like your “normal” self and struggle to find joy in your day, don’t hide – get the help you need and deserve!
My motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN.
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*EllenDolgen.com does not recommend, endorse, or make any representation about any tests, studies, practices, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, healthcare providers, physicians, or medical institutions that may be mentioned or referenced.