Let’s talk about menopause. Hot flashes, night sweats, forgetfulness – these are all common symptoms we hear about. But what about the mental health side effects of perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause), menopause, and postmenopause (after menopause)? 

Buckle up, because it’s time to discuss the emotional rollercoaster that can sometimes accompany this hormonal shift.

Can Menopause Cause Mental Health Issues?

During menopause, your body is basically throwing a hormonal fiesta – estrogen, progesterone, all the players are fluctuating wildly. And let’s be honest, who feels their best at a party where the guest list keeps changing? 

This hormonal upheaval can wreak havoc on your brain chemistry, leading to a rollercoaster of mental health concerns.

Here’s why you might be feeling a bit off-kilter:

  • The Anxiety Tango: Estrogen plays a big role in regulating mood. When its levels drop during menopause, hello anxiety! You might feel constantly on edge, easily frustrated, and like you’re living in a state of fight-or-flight.
  • Mood Swings from Here to Timbuktu: One minute you’re planning a world trip, the next you’re curled up in a blanket watching reruns and contemplating the meaning of life. These emotional ups and downs can be incredibly disorienting, leaving you feeling like you’re on a permanent emotional rollercoaster.
  • The Depression Downpour: A significant drop in estrogen can be a major downer, contributing to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. It’s like your favorite hobbies have suddenly lost their luster.
  • Brain Fog Blues: Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses that make you question if you left the straightener on or not – these are all frustrations of “menopause brain fog.” It can feel like your brain is stuck in molasses, making even simple tasks seem daunting.
  • Sleepless in Seattle (or Anywhere, Really): Hot flashes and night sweats can disrupt your sleep, leaving you feeling exhausted and even more irritable. It’s a vicious cycle – lack of sleep worsens your mood, and a bad mood can make it harder to sleep.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t dismiss them as just “part of getting older.” Talk to your doctor! They can help you determine if your mental health is related to menopause and explore treatment options. 

Remember, you’re not alone in this. Many women experience these emotional shifts, and there’s help available to navigate this hormonal hurdle.

What is Menopause Psychosis?

While anxiety, mood swings, and brain fog are more common mental health companions during menopause, there’s a rarer visitor that requires immediate attention: menopause psychosis. This isn’t something to mess around with.

Menopause psychosis is a serious condition that can occur during perimenopause or menopause. Unlike the other mental health effects, which can be frustrating and debilitating, menopause psychosis can be downright scary. Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Seeing Things That Aren’t There: Hallucinations are a hallmark symptom of menopause psychosis. You might see things that aren’t there, like people or animals.
  • Believing Things That Aren’t True: Delusions are another red flag. These are false fixed beliefs that can be unshakeable, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.
  • Feeling Like Everyone’s Out to Get You: Paranoia can creep in too. You might feel suspicious of others, convinced they have malicious intent.

These symptoms can be terrifying and disruptive to your daily life. If you’re experiencing any of them, don’t wait – seek immediate medical attention. 

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing this condition.

Here’s the important takeaway: the emotional ups and downs of menopause are common, but psychosis is not. If you’re experiencing hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia, talk to your doctor right away. They can help you get the treatment you need to get back on track.

What are the Three Stages of Menopause?

  • Perimenopause: This is the transition period leading up to menopause, lasting anywhere from a few years to a decade. It’s during this time that you might start experiencing some of the mental health symptoms mentioned earlier.
  • Menopause: Officially, you’ve reached menopause once you haven’t had a period for 12 months.
  • Postmenopause: This is the stage after menopause. Some women may continue to experience mental health symptoms during this time.

What are Five Lifestyle Changes That Can Assist with Menopause?

  • Let’s face it, menopause can feel like your body is playing by a different set of rules. Hot flashes, sleep disruptions, and mood swings can leave you feeling like you’re on a one-woman roller coaster ride. 

But here’s the good news: there are lifestyle changes you can make to navigate this transition and take charge of your mental and physical well-being.

  • Hack #1: Become a Sleep Superhero: 

We all know sleep is important, but during menopause, it becomes a superpower. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality shut-eye each night. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that might include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practicing gentle stretches. 

Create a cool and comfortable sleep environment by keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake before bed, as these substances can interfere with sleep quality.

  • Hack #2: Move Your Body, Boost Your Mood: 

Exercise is a natural mood booster and can significantly improve sleep quality. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme – find an activity you actually enjoy, whether it’s a brisk walk in nature with a friend, a dance class that lets you unleash your inner diva, or a swim at the local pool with some relaxing music playing. 

Getting your body moving will help you feel more energized and can combat anxiety and depression symptoms. Plus, regular exercise can help strengthen bones and muscles, which is important for maintaining overall health as you age.

  • Hack #3: Fuel Your Body, Nourish Your Mind: 

Think of your body as a car – it needs the right fuel to run smoothly. Fill your plate with a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. These foods provide essential nutrients that support your emotional well-being and brain health. Don’t forget to stay hydrated too – dehydration can worsen some menopause symptoms, like headaches and fatigue. 

Consider adding foods that are rich in phytoestrogens, like flaxseeds, lentils, and soybeans, to your diet as these plant-based compounds can mimic some of the effects of estrogen in the body.

  • Hack #4: De-Stress Like a Boss: 

Chronic stress can exacerbate all your menopause woes. Prioritize relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. Mindfulness practices can help you manage stress in the moment and cultivate a sense of calm throughout the day. 

There are many free resources available online and through apps to guide you in your relaxation practice.

  • Hack #5: The Power of Connection: 

You don’t have to go through this alone! Talk to friends, family, or a therapist about what you’re experiencing. Sharing your struggles and connecting with others who understand can be incredibly supportive. 

There are also online communities specifically for women going through menopause – finding your tribe can make a world of difference. Remember, talking openly and honestly can help you feel less alone and empower you to advocate for your health needs.

Remember:

Menopause doesn’t have to be a mental health minefield. 

By understanding the connection between hormones and mood, and by making some lifestyle changes, you can navigate this transition with more ease.

Remember, you’re not alone! 

Many women experience these emotional shifts, and there’s help available. So, take a deep breath, embrace this new chapter, and focus on taking care of yourself – mind, body, and spirit.

Safe Haven Therapy & Coaching

Psychotherapist & Mental Health Counseling in Philadelphia

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Safehaventx4u@gmail.com

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