Has the menopause had an impact on your mental health?
Hello again! A few days ago I wrote about body image to tie in with this year's Mental Health Awareness week and I mentioned that it's particularly common to suffer from poor self-esteem in adolescence. It set me thinking how it's often when we go through major physiological changes that we are particularly vulnerable to anxiety about how the rest of the world sees us, and another time women can find themselves especially uncomfortable with what the mirror reflects back is during the menopause. Certainly I found it hard to love the changes my body went through: I gained weight, I was more lethargic and felt less attractive to the opposite sex.
However, by far the most distressing way that I suffered at this time was mentally: my anxiety skyrocketed. Since then I have learned that as well as more commonly documented physical symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, many women in the run up to the menopause feel more sad and tearful, whilst other women report becoming moody and prone to outbursts of anger. Increased anxiety seems particularly common and in rare instances the menopause can lead to clinical depression.
There are many reasons for this but, put simply, as our hormones decline, it can impact brain chemistry along with the rest of the body. Yet because many of us are embarrassed to talk about the menopause and GPs don't always make the link, women are often unaware that their changing hormones might be a cause. Certainly when I started experiencing menopause-related symptoms, I didn't realise that is what they were. I thought I was going to feel anxious forever. To understand that a lot of what I was experiencing was a result of my sex hormones shutting down and was temporary made a massive difference, which is one reason I've written a book about the menopause and spoken widely about the subject since.
If you're suffering with menopausal symptoms, and are after some guidance and support, you might find it helpful to download Making Friends with the Menopause and join the Facebook group of the same name. The book is 99p to download on Amazon.co.uk (https://amzn.to/2VHKH4V) throughout Mental Health Awareness week and aims to provide an overview of symptoms and treatment options. The group is 'closed' so only members see posts and you can ask to join here - http://bit.ly/2WJ1TTU. If you're going through the menopause, I hope you find one or both of these helpful, and many thanks to Moodscope for allowing me spread the word.
In the meantime I wish you well, and have a good weekend.
A Moodscope member.