Menopause marks the end of your period and your reproductive years. Some women look forward to this change, while others do not. Most women, however, don’t welcome the symptoms that come with menopause — particularly when it comes to their mental health.
Here at The Association of Women’s Health Care, our specialists perform a complete physical and mental health evaluation to recommend the best course of treatment for your menopausal issues, including symptoms such as mood swings and depression. In this article, we’ll explore the effects of menopause on your mental health, as well as recommended treatment options.
The definition of menopause is when you haven’t had a period for a full year. The average age of onset is 51. However, your body starts changing many years before you reach menopause. This stage is called perimenopause.
During perimenopause, your estrogen and progesterone levels begin to diminish. Once you reach menopause, your hormone levels stabilize. But, until then, the fluctuation of hormones can bring on a host of issues.
Some women experience mild symptoms for a short period. For others, symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, and memory problems are life-altering and last for several years.
These symptoms can affect your relationships, you sleep, your weight, and your mental health. While menopause is a natural progression of life that every woman goes through, every woman also experiences it differently.
Mood swings are another common symptom of menopause. Low estrogen levels can lead to irritability, anxiety, and depression. Your moods can change quickly and vary greatly, from laughing to crying within minutes.
How are estrogen levels connected to your mood? Some studies point to the mood-enhancing effects of the hormone, which implies that lower levels of it may lead to feelings of depression. In fact, one study showed that women are two to four times more likely to experience a major depressive episode during menopause than at other times in their lives.
Menopause and low estrogen levels may also exacerbate existing mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
In addition to changing estrogen levels, sleepless nights can also contribute to mood changes. Night sweats, hot flashes, and heart palpitations at night can leave you feeling cranky, anxious, and irritable during the day.
Fortunately, you don’t have to live with frequent hot flashes, wild mood swings, or episodes of major depression. There are many treatment options to help manage your menopausal symptoms. For example, our specialists may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or bioidentical hormone therapy to replace the estrogen you’ve lost. HRT can come in pills, creams, patches, injections, or pellets.
If you’re going through menopause or perimenopause and experiencing mood swings or other mental health issues, contact The Association for Women’s Health Care with offices in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois for help, either by calling or booking an appointment online.