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Feb 05

Menopause and Mental Heatlh – weekend February 2022

Sometimes clients will present with anxiety and for us ladies this is another layer added to the challenges we can face at a certain stage of our lives , yes I am talking about the menopause.  Because  the fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone in the body can cause feelings of anxiety, stress and even depression perimenopausal mood swings often occur.
Women can also feel sad, sluggish, anger and irritability, suffer with low self esteem and confidence and have problems with sleeping.  Addressing problems with sleep can help improve mental heath and general well being during the menopause.   It is important to realise that the mental health symptoms of the menopause are as real as the physical ones, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), Counselling and Mindfulness are all options too.

I have mentioned in earlier Blogs about the benefits of weight bearing exercises to strengthen muscles but equally as good can be a brisk walk or dancing. Diet is also important during this time, we need plenty of calcium and Vitamin D during the menopause, eating diary foods and green leafy vegetables will provide the calcium and getting plenty of sunlight will support your body with Vitamin D which will in turn help the body absorb calcium.

Roughly 2/3rds of menopausal women have sleep problems due to dwindling progesterone, this in turns means that sleep patterns become deregulated and hot night time flushes can make it tougher to get back to sleep. Practically sticking to regular bedtimes and keeping your room to 18 c can help. Then what about your memory? Brain fog is commonly associated with depleted oestrogen which can cause a surge in anxiety as well.

The  50+  generation is much more likely to working during our 50’s and 60’s and just worrying about our memory could have a negative effect on us, so its reassuring to know that a recent 6 year study that despite the brain fog, anxiety and sometimes depression too, the professional women in the trial performed just as well on cognitive tests as their pre-menopausal selves. Its reassuring too that the weariness is temporary as the brain will simply adjust to the drop in oestrogen within 4 years of the onset of the menopause.

There are many options for helping with these symptoms from anti depressants to over the counter remedies.

Lastly is the added concern of taking HRT, a recent new observational, study published in the Lancet has brought this subject to for front again. Deciding whether to take HRT is a personal and individual decision and one that many women who are suffering debilitating menopausal symptoms need to make for themselves. Numerous robust studies have shown that there are benefits to taking HRT, reducing the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer and dementia too. Other modifying risks for developing breast cancer which include obesity, not exercising and drinking alcohol, are the things that we can also address to try and reduce our risk.

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