If you’re nearing or entering menopause and not feeling your best emotionally, there’s likely a link. This significant change in your life not only affects your fertility; it can impact your mental health as well. But you’re not alone.
As a trusted member of the Poplar Bluff community, Dr. Donald Jones at Ozark OB/GYN can help with all of your gynecological health care needs, including emotional changes caused by perimenopause and menopause.
Here’s what you need to know about how menopause can affect your mental health, and how Dr. Jones can help.
How menopause affects your mental health
You probably know that your hormones start fluctuating as you near menopause, that point in life when you’ve gone consecutive 12 months without a period. When you reach menopause, you can no longer have children. These changes happen because your body slows its production of estrogen and progesterone, hormones required for menstruation and pregnancy.
The average age for women to reach menopause is 51, but it can happen any time in your 40s or 50s. But, for most women, menopause doesn’t happen overnight.
Instead, they can spend years going through perimenopause, with their hormones going up and down like a roller coaster. And these intense and chaotic hormonal changes don’t just affect your period and fertility; they also impact the neurotransmitters in your brain, which affects your mood and behavior.
But your hormones aren’t the only thing causing mental health issues as you near or enter menopause. This time in your life is also marked by other factors that can affect your mood. It’s common for many women to start to worry about growing older, become depressed as their children move away, and even develop anxieties about losing loved ones.
When you combine intense hormone fluctuations with these stressful life events, it can increase your chances of experiencing mental health issues, especially depression.
Menopause and depression
Everyone gets depressed now and then, especially when you add hormones to the mix. But if your feelings become chronic or interfere with your daily life, they could indicate a more serious issue.
Common signs of depression include:
- Less interest in things you once enjoyed
- Irritability, agitation, frustration, or anger
- Changes in sleep patterns, like getting too much or too little
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Lack of energy
Your chance of having depression due to perimenopause or menopause increases if you have a history of mental health disorders. Other factors that can heighten your risk include being under increased stress, not having a strong support system, and having negative feelings on aging.
Protecting your mental health during menopause
When you near or enter menopause, Dr. Jones can help keep your hormones in balance to manage a variety of symptoms, from hot flashes and vaginal dryness to mood changes and depression.
As part of your menopause management strategy, Dr. Jones recommends making healthy lifestyle choices, such as:
- Quitting smoking
- Getting enough quality sleep
- Engaging in physical activity every day
- Following a healthy diet
- Learning relaxation techniques, like meditation or breathing exercises
- Building a strong support group
Dr. Jones also offers hormone therapies in a variety of forms, ranging from patches, pellets, and oral tablets to sprays, injections, and vaginal creams or suppositories.
To learn more about menopause and your mental health, schedule an appointment in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, by calling the office at 573-785-0313. You can also send the team a message here on the website.