Feelings of increased anxiety, depression, anger, rage, and panic are not uncommon for women to experience during the peri to post-menopausal transition. Estrogen and progesterone play a role in our brain chemistry, so as these hormones change, there can be downstream effects to the regulation of the brain chemicals which regulate mood and emotions.
While these hormonal changes can absolutely impact mental health status it is important to recognize that they are never the only component playing a role. The hormone changes alone that occur in peri and post-menopause do not by themselves cause anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions. Rather it is the hormonal shifts which have a tendency to exacerbate underlying symptoms such as anxiety and depression that have existed previously, even if not as intense.
The “convenient” timing of the menopause transition should also not be ignored. This often aligns with a time of life when women have aging parents, teenage children or an empty nest, greater work demands, relationship challenges, or also happen to be living through a Pandemic, just to name a few of the convoluting factors that also impact mental health. To say that the relationship between menopause and mental health is complicated, is an understatement. Given this complexity getting the support needed often takes a collaborative approach involving multiple healthcare providers.
The extremes at which these feelings are experienced exist on a continuum and can vary person to person. Regardless of where someone falls on this continuum, these feelings are real, uncomfortable, and for most women overwhelming, disconcerting, and deserving of getting support.
Typically, the mood changes that accompany female hormonal changes during the menopausal transition are temporary. Gennev’s Integrated Care Plan (ICP) can be helpful if you are experiencing feelings of anxiety, rage, and or depression that come and go, but are not debilitating. In this case, working with a menopause trained OB-GYN can help to provide hormonal support to compliment the lifestyle strategies provided in working with a dietitian health coach. Many women find success in having the support and accountability to implement strategies related to nutrition, sleep, mindset, movement, and mindfulness in combination with medical menopause options to help decrease the intensity of the feelings experienced, so they are more manageable.
In cases of severe anxiety, depression, personality disorders, trauma, and derealization, it is important that you are working with a credentialed mental health provider who can provide the specific support you need. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may need support from a mental health professional:
Finding a therapist that is right for you, and that you can bond with, can have a major impact on your progress. Need help finding a mental health provider?
Many women feel increased moodiness, anxiety, and even symptoms of depression throughout the menopause transition. However, it's important to not just brush off lingering symptoms to menopause - plan a visit with your physician.
If your concerns feel too heavy to handle, there is no shame in seeking professional help: Call, text, or chat 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and you will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. You can also dial 800-273-8255 or chat via the web at 988lifeline.org/chat/.
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