The Impact of Menopause on Mental Health: Addressing Anxiety and Depression

Menopause can be a challenging experience — physically and emotionally. It's normal to feel sadness and stress during this process. However, it's important to understand how menopause can impact mental health so you can watch for signs of anxiety and depression and address them as soon as possible.

How Menopause Affects Mental Health

Perimenopause, or the transitional stage before menopause starts, causes much of the hormonal fluctuations attributed to menopause. During perimenopause, menstrual cycles become irregular (longer, shorter, heavier, lighter, etc.).

The hormones that control the menstrual cycle influence a brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is known as the “happiness chemical,” producing feelings of well-being and joy. As hormone levels drop, so does serotonin, leading to irritability, stress, and other negative emotions.

Additionally, falling estrogen and progesterone levels can trigger mood swings, making it harder to deal with situations that may have otherwise been easier to handle. Some people may experience depressive episodes during this time, especially if they have a history of major depression.

How to Manage Anxiety and Depression During Menopause

If you’re feeling anxious or depressed while you navigate your menopause journey, there are ways to manage your symptoms. Some ideas include:

  • Staying active: Regular movement is good for both the mind and the body. Develop an exercise routine that makes you happy. The exercises you like to do may change throughout menopause, so don’t be afraid to roll with the punches.
  • Eating healthy foods: A healthy, well-balanced diet can make you feel more alert and improve your concentration, attention span, and overall mindset.
  • Practicing mindfulness: Mindfulness is all about staying in the present moment and allowing your thoughts to enter and leave your mind without interpretation or judgment. Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises are all mindful activities that can improve your mood.
  • Seeking counseling: A therapist can help you process negative emotions and guide you in how to overcome anxiety and depression.
  • Seeing an OBGYN: An OBGYN can assess your menopause symptoms and give you the resources you need to manage them effectively.

Get the Support You Need During Menopause

Menopause can be a challenging experience, especially for those who experience anxiety and depression as a result of it. Having a knowledgeable OBGYN team can help you address your anxiety and depression and get the help you need. At Pacific Women’s Obstetrics & Gynecology, our expert providers are dedicated to compassionate, patient-centered care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

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