Menopause is a significant stage in the life of a woman. There are the days of uncalled for morning blues when you may feel lethargic and low from within or feel like weeping for no apparent reason. To actually stand up for another day seems like the world’s biggest effort.
Menopause is usually associated with the discomfort of hot flashes. Of course, hormonal changes are at the root of this upheaval. This midlife chaos that almost every woman experiences in her life is caused by hormonal changes. Many times, women are not prepared for it and thus it seems intimidating and it results in sadness and/or denial.
Could I Be Suffering From Menopause?
The onset of menopause is around the age of 50 when the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone slows. Symptoms of menopause can last up to 5 years. This is a watershed development in the lifecycle of every woman that can lead to a range of effects such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, breast tenderness and disturbed sleep, poor sleep, night sweats and more frequent urination.
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Since the normal hours of sleep get disrupted, the tired person is at a greater risk of being irritable and depressed. Yet, it should also be borne in mind that midlife itself is a time when many people are at a risk for depression, mood swings, and irritability. For some women, these mood swings can be just an annoyance, for others this may trigger serious mental condition. Of course, it does affect a woman tremendously but it is not necessary to feel edgy. Menopause should not result in tripping your emotional wellbeing.
Understanding the Effect of Estrogen on Menopause
Hormones are body messengers and estrogen and progesterone are the hormones that control the reproductive system. The depletion of estrogen at menopause can bring about a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations. Doctors believe that this can lead to changes in the brain and nervous system. Apart from physical symptoms of fatigue, night sweats and even memory loss in some cases, doctors have held Estrogen responsible for such changes. Estrogen is female sex hormone responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics. Doctors blame that in the years before menopause, called perimenopause, there is a dip in the estrogen levels, that usually results in hot flashes, poor sleep, night sweats and more frequent urination.
Understanding the Effect of Menopause on Mental Health
Moods are affected by menopause. Irritability, feelings of sadness, lack of motivation, lack of focus, stress, difficulty in concentrating, and depression are some of them. This causes emotional distress and there are chances of potential relapses.
Clinical trials have found a connection between menopause and depression. Depression is reported in women who have had earlier clinical history, or women who suffered from severe PMS in their younger years or postpartum depression. At this age, they are more vulnerable to mood swings as well.
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Many women also suffer from the Bipolar disorder at this age and do complain of depression. Though doctors are clueless about the reasons, this is at least partly due to the normal decrease in the hormone estrogen due to menopause.
Researchers believe that there is some link between estrogen levels and psychosis in women. Since estrogen offers psychological and neurological protection to women, its depletion can cause schizophrenia and similar psychoses. This is the second peaking of the mental disease around menopause. The first one is early adulthood after puberty.
There are other emotional stressors like sexual life taking a backseat, children leaving home or even a new addition to the family. Financial and career changes, getting older, looking after elderly family members are other important factors. As such, there are huge potential effects of menopause on a woman, physical, emotional and societal as well.
Planning for Good Mental Health
Are you feeling depressed, anxious or sad for no reason? If you are a lady in this age bracket, it is better to talk openly about your mental health. Just as you consult a doctor about your physical problems, mental health should not be ignored as well. In fact, mental health is associated with menopause.
Menopause is still a taboo word for many women.
Women are fearful of the onset of menopause around the age of early 50s. Sometimes, women experience menopause as early as in their 30s. Recent researches have proved that women who undergo early menopause or surgical menopause are more likely to experience a clinical depression than women who have a ‘natural’ menopause. The reasons can vary. In surgical menopause cases, there is a more sudden change in hormones and it may also be related to the illness that caused the surgery in the first place such as a cancer diagnosis.
Doctors say that mental health and menopause are intertwined and appropriate self-care measures are needed to cope with it effectively.
Here, hormonal fluctuations can have a significant impact on women’s mental health, with some women more vulnerable to these changes than others. These mental health problems require specific treatment, support, care, and sympathy. Hormonal therapy is the common course of advice recommended by the doctors for women who undergo surgical menopause or removal of ovaries. The body secretes its own hormonal defense for women who experience menopause naturally.
Hormonal changes during menopause may contribute to the depressed mood and anxious feelings. You feel immense joy and frustration almost simultaneously with the blinking of an eye. In fact, there are paradoxical emotions, like people may see you angry, but in reality, you are deeply sad. Anger is the outward manifestation or a mask.
Psychiatrists have always said that human beings generally mask one motion and may display a rather opposite reaction to the world. A matter of medical debates, it goes without saying that if you feel depressed or anxious at this age, it is a cause of concern that must be addressed. It is important to pay attention to your emotions and consider your real feelings.
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This experience is different for a different woman. While for some, the symptoms are mild and barely noticeable, for others it may be a huge tumult. In some women, menopause and the reduction of estrogen can cause or aggravate mental health or exacerbate a pre-existing condition.
If you are a woman going through menopause, it should be the “me” time for you.
There is the need to get over it in a way most suited to you. Even if you feel a little awkward, acceptance is the only solution. On the bright side, the regular chore of the period is gone! No periods of high or low!
Remaining calm and sane can be very little difficult at times. However, remember that this is just a phase that you can beautifully pass through meditation, Yoga, and medications as well. Consulting a physician is definitely recommended for exploring options that may help to relieve symptoms and provide strategies for coping with changes. Talk with your physician to discover what options may be the most effective.
Contributor Bio – The blog is presented by Sharda Hospital. Sharda Hospital is one of the largest super specialty hospitals in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR).