Menopause is a natural part of every woman's aging process. Unfortunately, all of the changes happening in your life and body can affect your mental health for the worse. You might need greater mental health support than usual during this time.
At New England Women's Healthcare, our experienced team offers menopause support as part of our range of women's health services and can advise you on mental health concerns during this period of your life. Here’s a look at what to expect from menopause, as well as some of the treatments and services you might need.
Changes to your life and body
During menopause, physical discomfort combined with the life changes that often occur with aging can leave you feeling destabilized or emotional. Menopause comes on its own schedule, but typically arrives for women between the ages of 45 and 55. Menopause marks the end of your fertility and is accompanied by significant hormonal changes that can adversely impact your mood.
Beginning in perimenopause, the period about 5-10 years before full cessation of your menstrual cycle, your hormones (estrogen and progesterone) naturally declines. Your hormones do a lot to influence and shape your mood, so the fluctuation in hormone levels that comes with menopause can negatively impact your mental health. Hormone replacement therapies may be an option to stabilize your hormones and menopausal mood swings.
In addition to biological changes like fluctuating hormone levels and issues such as genital dryness, menopause also tends to be correlated with personal life stage changes. The composition of your family may have changed through losses and new additions, and your own sense of self and your social role may waver during these transitions. Extra support, either through lifestyle shifts for improved self-care or through services like counseling, can really make a difference in getting you through menopause with your mental health intact.
If you already have a mental health diagnosis
For patients who already know they have a mental health condition, menopause leads to changes, as well. Extreme mood swings can accompany menopause in patients who have conditions including:
- Severe PMS
- A history of postpartum depression
- Bipolar disorder
If you have a history of one of these conditions, you may need additional medication or counseling during menopause.
Studies show that estrogen reduction can trigger or aggravate psychotic mental disorders like schizophrenia. If you have pre-existing chronic schizophrenia, your condition might deteriorate during menopause, and perimenopause may increase your risk of first-onset schizophrenic psychoses. Changes to your medication can help keep your mental health balanced during the course of your menopause.
If you're concerned about your mental health and menopause, talk to a member of the New England Women's Healthcare team (Elena Brown, MD, FACOG; Kimberly Cole, MD, FACOG; Darrah Curiale, MD, FACOG; Glen Dixon, MD, FACOG; Melissa Martin, MD, FACOG) as soon as possible. We're committed to supporting women at all life stages from our Woburn, Massachusetts, offices. To make your appointment, call us or request an appointment online today.