You may experience feelings of anxiety, stress or even depression. Menopausal symptoms may include:
- Anger and irritability.
- Loss of self-esteem.
- Loss of confidence.
- Low mood and feelings of sadness or depression.
- Poor concentration – often described as 'brain fog' and/or lost words.
Many women experiencing menopause or perimenopause will experience problems with sleeping (external website). Lack of sleep and tiredness can also make symptoms including irritability, ability to concentrate or anxiety worse.
Addressing problems with sleep may help you manage some of the mental health symptoms you can experience due to menopause.
There are lots of different options that can help you with these experiences and improve your mental health and wellbeing during the menopause.
Some women have been prescribed anti-depressants to help with the mental health-related symptoms during the menopause, but unless you have been diagnosed with depression there are other treatment options that are more appropriate.
It’s important to realise that the mental symptoms of menopause are as real as the physical ones, and you should not wait to seek help if you are struggling. Speak to your local GP practice and they can provide you with the right support and help.
There are various treatments that you might want to consider to help relieve some of the psychological impacts of menopause. Everyone is different so it's about choosing what's right for you. Treatments can include:
Menopause and suicidal thoughts
Data shows that menopausal women experience mental health issues, including suicidal thoughts, but too any stay silent. Suicidal thoughts can be another sign that things are not right, and they can be very frightening and confusing. You may not understand why you’re getting them and feel completely powerless to stop it happening. They can range from fleeting thoughts to being persistent and you may even have a carefully thought-out plan to end your life.
If you’ve reached that moment and feel on the edge, but don’t feel comfortable reaching out to a close friend or family member, call someone like the Samaritans (dial 116 123) and talk about it. They will help you get through that frightening moment and make more sense of your current situation and point you to other places to get help.
While it can be very scary and there seem like no other way out of your misery, remember this is a moment in time and the strength of those feelings will pass.
Don’t focus too much on what’s causing your bouts of low mood or anxiety – “is it my hormones or just my life right now” – there’s usually not a single answer to that one.
What matters is you, how you feel and what to do about it. Taking steps to care for your mind and body will help you feel better, no matter what the cause.
Ways to help
Firstly, give your body the best chance to feel better by boosting some key aspects of menopausal health.
Boost your body’s:
If you show signs and symptoms of being perimenopausal or menopausal (find out more here), think about taking HRT.
If you’re already taking HRT, speak to your healthcare professional if you think you may need a higher dose or different type if you feel that it’s not having the effect that it used to.
A steady supply of oestrogen – and often testosterone too – into your bloodstream can help improve feelings of low mood, anxiety and many other symptoms (not to mention protect you against diseases in the future).
As tempting as it is to comfort eat while binging your favourite programmes during lockdown, you need to be kind to your body and remember you’re feeding your brain too. There’s a close relationship between what’s happening in your gut and how your brain functions.
A diet with plenty of vegetables, that’s low in sugar, salt and overly processed foods, but rich in calcium, vitamin D and pre- and probiotics will help not only your gut and general health, but your energy levels and mood too.
One of the best things you can do for your mind and body is sleep. Try and get 7-8 hours a night, with a consistent routine of when you go to bed and when you get up. Here’s more information on why it’s so important and our tips on sleeping better.
Looking after these aspects of your physical health is really important. Now, lets think more about your mental health.
Things to remember if you're not OK
How you're feeling is normal
You may feel like you’re really struggling and not coping at the moment. You’re certainly not alone in feeling this way. Many people have times where they find things overwhelming and emotions can seem extreme, especially negative emotions.
You are not alone
Having negative thoughts can make you feel like you’re on your own and there’s no one to turn to but remember, you are never alone. Even if you feel like you can’t share some of your thoughts with anyone you know, there are volunteers and professionals that care about you and understand a bit about what you’re going through.
As awful as you may feel right now, feelings don’t last forever. It can be difficult to see beyond your current situation but talking about things can often help you see a glimpse of something more hopeful in the future.
Ways to help yourself
Connect with people
Even if it’s just over zoom for now, a chat with good friends or family can lift the spirits, make you laugh and help you feel a little less alone.
Talk about your feelings
Open up with a trusted friend or family member and let the “I’m fine” mask slip a little now and then. A conversation that digs a bit deeper can help you put things into perspective and feel brighter about the future.
Keep to a routine
Planning your day can help you feel grounded when everything feels uncertain. Stick to set times to eat, sleep, and exercise and they can be like anchors you keep coming back to throughout your day. This is especially true during periods of lockdown or unemployment.
Make time for things you enjoy
While you may be restricted in doing some of your favourite activities, there are plenty of hobbies you can enjoy from home or forms of outdoor activity that are permitted. Find time for 30 minutes a day if you can, for something creative, relaxing, or being outdoors.
Breathing and relaxation exercises
Exercises that focus on controlled breathing or relaxing your muscles can really help you feel calmer. There’s a huge number of ways to do these such as apps, videos, podcasts or reading instructions on websites. Take a look at these ones from Mind as an example. Find the one that is easiest for you to turn to in moments of overwhelm. It will quickly become memorised and be integrated into a daily routine as many times as you need it.
Most people are finding life harder than normal at the moment; be kind to yourself and think about some small things you can feel proud of. Your body is going through a major shift at the same time your life has probably been turned upside down by a huge global event.
Be honest with yourself and talk to others about how you’re feeling. You’re not going through this alone and remember, help is available. Reach out for support and you will start to see your situation in a more positive light.
Suicide awareness: The impact of Menopause (external website).