Study: Counseling, Other Therapies Can Treat Menopause Symptoms

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Feb. 28, 2024 -- Therapies such as group counseling, marital support and mindfulness can treat some symptoms of menopause like anxiety and poor mood, according to a new analysis.

Researchers at the University College London reviewed 30 studies involving 3,500 women in 14 countries, including the United States. Their findings were published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Britain’s National Health Service last year suggested cognitive behavior therapy can be useful with hot flashes, sleep, and mood issues, with or instead of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

HRT is given through gels, tablets and sprays to replace estrogen, progestogen or both.

“But psychosocial therapies such as group counselling, marital support and health-promotion coaching, as well as mindfulness and CBT, focus on developing behavioural patterns, coping strategies and relaxation techniques,” the BBC reported.

The London researchers said “empowering women” to develop positive thinking would probably be better than HRT. Some women had “statistically significant improvements” in anxiety and depression after cognitive behavioral and mindfulness therapies compared to receiving no treatments at all. CBT and group therapies improved sleep, memory, and concentration.

Aimee Spector, Phd., professor of clinical psychology of aging at University College of London,   said the results show a clear link between physical and psychological symptoms, with hot flashes being one example. They cause women to become “very anxious” about having them, and that anxiety can then lead to more hot flashes.

Similarly, poor sleep can lead to depression, which can make it even harder to sleep, and so on.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can break these cycles “by getting people to use strategies to think about different ways of looking at things,” she said.