Menopause and Mental Health
For women, menopause is a significant turning point in their lives. The dropping levels of oestrogen and the resultant physical and mental symptoms can be like a cycle of events, only adding to their woes!
Were you depressed before menopause? Are too many wrinkles and too little energy making you feel old and negative about yourself and lowering your self-esteem? Is your life under increased stress?
Well! Menopause is just not the period in a woman's life when certain things happen out of the blue. It is also the time when her period is on the decline and hormones are in complete disarray.
Depression, insomnia, irritability, mood swings and lack of concentration are few menopause symptoms that the lady has to battle with. These symptoms may begin as early as 4 years before the actual menopause and may continue for several years after that!
Depression symptoms affect every middle-aged woman. An estimated 20 per cent of women see signs of depression at some point during menopause. The peak period for depression is during the peri-menopausal years, when the woman is approaching menopause. The reason for depression during perimenopausal and menopausal age is the fluctuating hormones; especially the level of reproductive hormone ‘oestrogen’ is responsible for the mental changes.
Changes in the Sleep Pattern
Insomnia is seen in 40 to 50 per cent of women in the menopausal transition phase. Women who spend sleepless nights are more likely than others to show irritability, crankiness, stress and depression symptoms.
Sleep apnea too occurs in the menopausal transition age. This is due to decreased progesterone level, as progesterone plays an important role in respiration. The weight gain that happens during menopause has also been shown to cause sleep apnea.
Panic disorder is commonly seen during the perimenopause stage. Existing disorder may worsen or new disorder may arise. Panic disorder is usually manifested in women who show several physical menopause symptoms. The panic attacks are usually associated with negative life events, pre-existing medical diseases and decreased daily functionality.
Where are my car keys? Have I taken my thyroid medication? Memory losses are so common that many women feel they can’t depend on their memory any more. Some of it is due to the effect of unbalanced hormones, difficulty falling asleep, and waking up at night due to hot flashes.
Chronically tired people are also much more likely to feel irritable, moody, and unfocused. Balancing hormones, controlling sleep, exercising and good nutrition are very helpful ways to bring emotions back into control. It’s a good idea to coordinate your regular day habits with a reputed homeopath to get the both physical as well as medical benefits.
Women with bipolar disorder experience an exacerbation of symptoms during the perimenopausal stage. These women are also the ones that are highly likely to experience severe signs of depression in the menopausal phase.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
New onset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), worsening of the existing condition or change in the pattern of symptoms is seen during menopause. OCD changes are also observed during pregnancy and during the menstrual changes, suggesting the impact of hormones on symptoms of OCD.
Schizophrenia usually manifests itself in young adulthood. The rate of new cases decreases gradually thereafter, in both men and women. In women, however, there is a second peak in the 45-50 years age group. This peak is not observed in men. This suggests that oestrogen may play a significant role in triggering schizophrenia or worsening the pre-existing condition.