Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels are characteristic of the transition to menopause, the years leading up to the cessation of menstruation. These hormonal changes affect all major organ systems in the body, including the brain, and can contribute to the following symptoms: .
According to , mood changes are common during the transition period known as perimenopause, with as many as 4 in 10 women experiencing irritability, low energy, sadness, or difficulty concentrating. .
Because menopausal symptoms often appear suddenly and unexpectedly at a time when people are already busy with family and work responsibilities, these mood changes can interfere with normal functioning, says California. says Dr. Rajita Patil, director of the University of Los Angeles Health Center. program.
“Mood disorders and mood disorders not only directly impact short-term quality of life, but also increase the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and dementia,” says Dr. Patil.
That’s why a comprehensive menopause care program includes access to psychologists and psychiatrists trained in reproductive health.
anxiety and depression
Menopause is a natural phenomenon of aging and occurs in all people with ovaries, usually around middle age. The average age is 51 years, but it can occur as early as 40 years old or as late as 60 years old. Although menopause is a brief period of 12 months without menstruation, the years leading up to it bring about significant hormonal changes that can affect your menopause. Health during and after the menopausal transition.
She said symptoms of anxiety and depression are common during this time, especially among people with a history of mental health disorders. is the medical director of UCLA Health’s Maternal Mental Health Program and a collaborating physician with the Comprehensive Menopause Care Program.
“People think a lot about premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMS, PMDD. They think about pregnancy. They think about postpartum. But menopause is a time of huge hormonal changes that go on for years. It’s also a period of continuation,” Dr. Amber Firth said, adding, “From a hormonal perspective, it’s a chaotic time in some ways.”
Dr. Louise Dixon de Silva, a clinical psychologist involved in menopause care programs, points out that hormonal changes are not the only factors that contribute to mood and anxiety problems in people with menopause. Individuals’ feelings about aging, fertility, their position in society, and other environmental and social factors also play a role.
For example, if someone has sex frequently; Although it’s the most common symptom of menopause, it can affect your mood and have a domino effect on your life, says Dr. Dixon de Silva.
“They may start doing things like avoiding social events,” she says. “Alternatively, if you feel your face getting hot, you may immediately become very anxious and overthink it.
“So, in addition to the biological changes that cause these symptoms, these symptoms change the way people interact with their lives. And when people stop seeing friends or have problems at work, depression increases. We also know that symptoms of illness and anxiety increase.”
For these reasons, it is important not to treat menopausal mood disorders in isolation, Dr. Patil said, and a comprehensive menopause care program should address issues such as sleep, hot flashes, and psychosocial stressors to appropriately address them. He added that his mental health is also being assessed.
Cognitive behavioral therapy support
Dr. Dixon de Silva leads a six-week cognitive behavioral therapy group for people experiencing vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. This group supports participants to change their thinking about these symptoms and teaches techniques for relaxation and stress reduction. Four to six sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy have been shown to significantly reduce hot flashes and improve sleep, mood, and quality of life.
“The really great perk of this group is being close to other people who are going through the same issues as you and can support you in that capacity,” says Dr. Dixon de Silva. “Women, aging and menopause are not topics we usually talk about, so getting support is really important.”
Not everyone experiences mood or mental health problems during the menopausal transition. But people who have symptoms of depression or anxiety at this time need help.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also an option, as are antidepressants, which have been shown to be effective in treating depression and anxiety symptoms and improving quality of life, says Dr. Amber Firth.
“Certain antidepressants can also help with hot flashes,” she added.
The hormonal changes associated with the transition to menopause can cause a variety of physical and psychological symptoms, but a comprehensive menopause care program is prepared to address them, says Dr. Patil .
“My vision is to provide evidence-based, comprehensive, yet personalized, whole-person care,” she says. “It’s important to put power in the hands of patients, with the right information and understanding of their health status so they can make the decisions that are best for them.”