The Emotional Roller Coaster of Menopause
Declining estrogen levels associated with menopause can cause more than those pesky hot flashes. They can also make a woman feel like she is in a constant state of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Unfortunately, these emotional changes are a normal part of menopause.
Some of the emotional changes experienced by women undergoing perimenopause or menopause can include:
- Feelings of sadness
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes
If you are feeling irritable and sad, there is a good chance it could be related to menopause, but the above listed symptoms are not linked only to menopause. There are a number of conditions that can cause you to feel downright irritable. Tell your doctor how you are feeling, so he or she can rule out other medical or psychiatric conditions.
How Can I Cope With the Emotional Changes of Menopause?
Irritability and feelings of sadness are the most common emotional symptoms of menopause. Often, they can be managed through lifestyle changes, such as learning ways to relax and reduce stress.
Here are some tips that may make it easier for you to handle your fluctuating emotions:
- Exercise and eat healthy.
- Find a self-calming skill to practice, such as yoga, meditation, or rhythmic breathing.
- Avoid tranquilizers and alcohol.
- Engage in a creative outlet that fosters a sense of achievement.
- Stay connected with your family and community.
- Nurture your friendships.
Although depression is not caused by menopause, some women exhibit the symptoms of depression during this time. If you are feeling increasingly unable to cope, see your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend medicine, such as antidepressants, or therapy that can get you through this rough time.
Can Hormone Replacement Therapy Help During Menopause?
While there is growing evidence to suggest that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can relieve emotional symptoms linked to menopause, HRT alone is not effective in treating more severe depression. Antidepressant drug therapy and/or psychotherapy may be necessary.
I Have a Hard Time Concentrating and I'm Forgetful. Is This a Normal Part of Menopause?
Unfortunately, difficulty with concentration and minor memory problems can often be a normal part of perimenopause, the time leading up to menopause (defined as not having a period for a year). The good news is that it is likely to be temporary.
Current medical knowledge is limited as to why memory changes occur with perimenopause, and there are currently no treatments available to relieve these symptoms. If you are having memory problems, discuss this with your doctor. He or she can help manage memory problems, or may be able to provide reassurance.