Most women over age 40 know menopause is right around the corner. Before you’re in full menopause, you’re in perimenopause — a time when your periods may become irregular, estrogen levels continually decrease, and your ovaries stop releasing eggs. This could go on for years.
You’re officially in menopause when you don’t have a period for 12 consecutive months. Once you enter this stage of life, you may have night sweats and trouble sleeping, brain fog, and those dreaded hot flashes. And menopause can also affect your mental health.
Our caring team of doctors and nurse practitioners at Cary OB/GYN can help you manage your symptoms so you can have a better quality of life. Here’s what you should know about menopause and your emotional well-being.
Menopause and mental health
As women get older and estrogen levels fall, they face a variety of menopausal symptoms. You may feel stressed or develop anxiety when thinking about the future. You may be irritable and tired, suffer from mood swings, and have difficulty concentrating or remembering things. You may even become depressed and lose interest in your day-to-day activities.
If this sounds like you, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and that this will eventually pass. Being in menopause can cause certain mental health conditions to appear or to worsen. Researchers think lower estrogen plays a role, but they aren’t sure why.
Some mental health conditions to watch for:
- Depression: sleeping a lot, no longer wanting to participate in daily activities, sadness
- Anxiety: stress, fear, and worry that may feel like nervousness or a sense that something can go wrong, panic attacks
- Bipolar disorder: out of touch with reality, lows or highs that last more than a day
- Schizophrenia: hearing voices, strange behavior, disorganized speech
If you think menopause is causing some mental health issues, don’t be afraid to confide in us. We’re here to help you through this transitional time. If you’re in crisis, call 911 so you can get emergency medical care.
Managing menopause and maintaining good mental health
Dealing with the physical effects of menopause can be difficult enough. But when combined with mental health issues, menopause can be disruptive and affect your quality of life.
You may want to stay home more because you don’t feel well or are extremely tired. You may decide to cancel dates, miss game night, or skip other social activities. You may also be irritable and have a hard time focusing at work. All of these symptoms are manageable under our guidance.
Lifestyle changes like limiting drugs and alcohol, cutting back on caffeine, eating a healthy diet, exercising more, and getting enough sleep may improve mild sadness, depression, or anxiety. If you’re upset about midlife or aging, seek support from friends and loved ones, or join a support group for women going through menopause. If you develop a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, or a severe case of anxiety or depression, various medications are available to help.
Don’t let menopause grab hold of you. To learn more about how we can help you manage your menopause symptoms, request an appointment with one of our providers in Cary or Morrisville, North Carolina via our online form or by calling 919-551-7639.