15 Mar Menopause and Emotional Symptoms
When we discuss menopause we often focus on the physical changes that happen to our body, but it’s important to recognize that we will go through some mental and emotional changes too.
The intense hormonal and physical changes can cause negative mental health effects such as mood swings, anxiety, difficulty with memory, and even depression. In fact, the risk of depression for women actually increases after menopause.
Understanding these changes can help you to prepare for them to make sure that you have a positive menopause experience overall. Meet your hormones, know your body!
Why Does Menopause Feel This Way?
It’s all about hormonal changes. Our hormones have a strong influence on our emotions, as I’m sure we all learned when we felt like crying for no reason during our periods. The same stays true and can even get more intense during menopause. Extreme hormonal fluctuations during menopause can cause mood swings and feelings of anxiety.
The hormone imbalances cause chemicals in your brain to change which affects your mood and your mental functioning. Each time your hormones fluctuate with changing levels of estrogen your brain has to compensate. If the change is small you may not experience any symptoms at all or something minor like a little frustration, but if the change is big then you will experience more severe symptoms such as anxiety and depression symptoms.
Menopause also can cause a difficulty sleeping due to hot flashes and other symptoms and a lack of quality sleep can easily lead to negative mental health effects.
There are also many other non-physical related reasons why emotions may be running high during menopause. This is a difficult time in life and you may be going through a lot of changes which can cause stress on your relationships and even your professional life. This extra stress can cause anxiety and even lead to depression.
- feelings of sadness
- lack of motivation
- difficulty concentrating
- mood changes
How to Manage the emotional symptoms of Menopause
It’s most important to realize that these emotional changes are normal and they are happening for a reason. So no, you are not going crazy! The good news is that as with most menopause symptoms, mild emotional symptoms can be easily managed through some simple lifestyle changes. Let’s see them!
- Stress reduction techniques: Yoga and meditation are great ways to relax your body and your mind to help reduce and relieve stress. If you have never practiced it and/or it is difficult to you, you can start with breathing exercises, a simple practice to relax and bring your concentration back on.
- Exercise: Regular exercise will help to improve your mood and your mental health by releasing positive chemicals like serotonin and thus improve your mood and your mental health. In addition, taking care of your weight and muscle tone is very important at this moment!
- A healthy diet: It is important for both your physical and emotional health. A healthy diet will make you feel good and help you maintain your weight. Reduce fats and increase vegetal proteins and fiber.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Both of these can trigger anxiety or make it worse
- Engage in activities that help to create a sense of achievement: Try doing things that make you feel good. Positive reinforcement will make you feel better about yourself!
- Stay connected with friends and family: Communication is key! Talk about your problems with people who care about you. You will feel better and and it will help improve relationships that might be changing during this time in life.
- Quality sleep: A good night’s sleep is vital to your overall health and therefore your mental health. If you aren’t getting enough quality sleep this can easily trigger anxiety and poor mental functioning.
- Supplements: In addition to food, taking supplements and extracts can help you cope with the symptoms of menopause. Soy isoflavones are a good choice. It’s a substance very similar to estrogen, and it helps to soften the effects of hormonal changes (2)
Making sure you take care of your emotions during menopause is just as important as taking care of your physical health. The two go hand in hand and taking care of one aspect will help to improve the other!
If you are experiencing severe emotional symptoms such as signs of depression or extreme anxiety you should consult a doctor for medical support. You can still implement these tips to help ease your symptoms, but it is important that you seek professional help when necessary.
Maoz, B., Dowty, N., Antonovsky, A. et al. Soc Psychiatry (1970) 5: 35. doi:10.1007/BF01539794. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01539794
Matthews, Karen A.; Wing, Rena R.; Kuller, Lewis H.; Meilahn, Elaine N.; Kelsey, Sheryl F.; Costello, E. Jane; Caggiula, Arlene W. “Influences of natural menopause on psychological characteristics and symptoms of middle-aged healthy women”. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 58(3), Jun 1990, 345-351. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.58.3.345