Mental health and the menopause

Mental health during the menopause

During the menopause, changes in your hormone levels and the stress associated with this phase of your life can impact your mental wellbeing as well as your physical health. It’s common to experience stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, feelings of sadness, aggressiveness, and depression - as well as difficulty focusing and a lack of motivation.

But help is available and there are different options that can help you manage menopause symptoms and improve your mental health. Our guide looks at some of the warning signs that you could need help and support.

What symptoms am I likely to experience during the menopause?

Depression

Depression is a serious condition and shouldn’t be confused with mood changes as a result of the menopause. However, if you find that your mood is low for a long time, this could be the first signs of depression and you should speak to your GP.

Menopause and anxiety

It’s normal to feel anxious as you transition into menopause. Changes in hormone levels can affect your mood and your physical health and issues at home or at work can seem insurmountable. Add in a lack of sleep and it’s easy to see why feelings of anxiety might increase.

Poor concentration, forgetfulness or ‘brain fog’

Brain fog is a very common symptom of the menopause. It can leave you struggling to concentrate, affect your memory and make it hard to retain information.

Low self-esteem

This inability to concentrate, or forgetfulness, may dent your confidence in ways you didn’t expect. You may feel that you’re letting your family, friends or even your colleagues down.

Changes to your physical appearance – menopausal weight gain or the effects of ageing on your skin, hair and eyes - may leave you feeling low.

Hot flushes, joint pain, bladder issues and fatigue can all stop you from doing the things you love, leaving you feeling isolated.

Anger and irritability

The onset of all of these symptoms can seem extreme and may take you by surprise. Situations which you were able to take in your stride may make you irritated or even angry – and it’s easy to  feel that you’ve lost control of your emotions.

What treatments are available?

Cognitive behavioural therapy

If you’re struggling to understand why you feel the way you do, cognitive behavioural therapy – a type of talking therapy – can help. CBT focuses on the positive areas of your life and how to rethink negative thoughts – and this can boost your confidence.

Help from your employer

Not everyone feels comfortable talking to a stranger, so if your mental health is affected by or is affecting your work, try speaking to your line manager, a colleague, someone in your HR team or your Occupational Health department.  Many employers have an Employee Assistance programme (EAP) or a menopause support group as well as policies to support women going through the menopause.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

HRT is just one menopause treatment and is an effective way of managing menopause symptoms. As the name suggests, it replaces the hormones (mainly oestrogen and progestogen, though some also contain testosterone) which are in decline during menopause. HRT is usually available as a tablet, gel, spray or patches – as well as creams or even the Mirena Coil.

Mindfulness or relaxation

Taking some time for yourself to relax and de-stress is key to good mental health. Try some mindfulness exercises, yoga or even just a long walk to clear your mind.

Exercise

Exercise is a great way to boost your energy and improve your self-esteem. It can boost the endorphins that improve your mood, help you to manage your weight and even provide a means to meet other women in the same situation. Our guide to staying active during the menopause has some useful tips to help you get started.

Supporting your health at Benenden Hospital

It’s important not to suffer in silence during the menopause. We’re experts at treating women’s health concerns and offer a range of private gynaecology services, including help for female continence issues, in a comfortable, discreet and reassuring environment in the heart of the Wealden countryside.

Contact our Private Patient team in confidence today by completing our online form or by calling 01580 363158.

Published on 23 June 2022