Menopause and Mental Health

Everyone who experiences menopause will experience it differently. There are a wide range of signs and symptoms meaning that some people will show different symptoms compared to others and there may also be different levels of severity across these symptoms. Therefore it is important not to compare your experience to that of others.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a biological process in which the ovaries age, resulting in a reduced level of reproductive hormones. This means that your periods will stop and you will no longer be able to reproduce.
The average age for menopause is 51-years-old, however this can occur much earlier, or much later, that this; with 1 in 100 women reaching menopause before the age of 40.

Alternatively, some people may need to undergo a hysterectomy, a procedure in which the ovaries are removed. This would mean that the individual would immediately reach menopause as a result. This can occur at any age, for various reasons (medical intervention, or personal choice.)

Menopause is only reached once you have not had a period for 12 months or more. This means that when you hear people talking about going through the menopause and having symptoms, they may actually be experiencing perimenopause.

This is the period of time where the individual experiences symptoms such as:

  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Sleeping problems
  • Mood swings
  • Brain fog, forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Vaginal dryness / pain
  • Aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)

When going through the menopause, you will also experience a lot of hormone changes. This can contribute to mood swings, low mood and anxiety. For many people, these are some of the first signs of the menopause.
If an individual already has a history of mental illness, going through the menopause can lead to an increase in depressive episodes as well as having a large impact on those with bipolar and/or schizophrenia and in some cases they may need to seek help from their GP and potentially increase their medications. This could be due to a decrease in oestrogen.

Even those who have not experienced mental health concerns in their life, can be impacted mentally by this change. Going through the menopause can be very difficult, experiencing multiple physical symptoms for an extended period of time can be very draining and mentally exhausting. Some may be feeling upset about going through the menopause, especially if they were wanting to have more children, or their first child. Although there are of course other paths that can be taken in order to have a baby, not being able to get pregnant in the typical way can be very hard to come to terms with.

It is important to show understanding and compassion when a loved one is experiencing such a big change. It is important that we support them throughout, and help them through their symptoms. Some may need to seek medical help when experiencing the menopause, to help manage the symptoms that they are going through. Please, if you are struggling, consult with your GP and lean on those around you for emotional support.

For more advice please see the below resources:

NHS – Menopause

National Institute on Ageing – What is Menopause?

Mental Health UK – How Can Menopause Affect Your Mental Health?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: