October is designated as Menopause Awareness Month, and while hot flashes and night sweats often dominate the conversation, it’s crucial to shed light on the often-overlooked aspect of perimenopause: the mental and emotional challenges that can emerge as early as your 40s.
Hormonal and Psychological Triggers
Estrogen Decline: Estrogen levels drop significantly during menopause, affecting serotonin and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters responsible for mood regulation.
Progesterone Imbalance: Progesterone, another hormone, may decrease relative to estrogen, contributing to mood swings.
Subconscious Beliefs: Negative subconscious beliefs can significantly impact anxiety levels, self-esteem, and the ability to embrace aging. These beliefs may have roots in childhood experiences and conditioning.
Midlife Crisis: Menopause can trigger a midlife crisis, as it serves as a reminder of life’s impermanence. This crisis can bring to the surface conditioned responses learned in childhood, such as feelings of impotence, isolation, body shaming, hyper-productivity versus procrastination, self-criticism, and catastrophizing.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Research, such as the Mayo Clinic study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33308631, has shown a correlation between ACEs and the severity of menopause symptoms. Unresolved childhood trauma and negative programming can manifest as menopausal mood disorders.
Signs of Mood Disorders in Menopause
- Depression: Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy.
- Anxiety: Excessive worry, restlessness, and irrational fears.
- Irritability: Heightened sensitivity, anger, and frustration.
- Mood Swings: Rapid and unpredictable shifts in emotions.
- Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns.
- Loss of Interest: Reduced enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities.
- Difficulty Concentrating: Impaired cognitive function and memory lapses.
- Isolation: Growing apart from friends and activities.
- Body Shaming: Skipping group events due to self-criticism.
- Self-Sabotage: Overindulging in sugary or carb-loaded foods.
- Destructive Behavior: Excessive drinking, late nights, misuse of medication.
- Nutrition: A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and B vitamins can support mood stability.
- Gut Health: A healthy gut microbiome positively influences mood. Incorporating probiotics and fiber-rich foods can aid gut health.
- Regular Exercise: Physical activity releases endorphins, promoting a sense of well-being and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Stress Management: Mindfulness techniques, meditation, and deep breathing exercises help manage stress levels.
- Therapy and Support Groups: Professional therapy or participating in support groups can provide valuable emotional support.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Under medical guidance, HRT can help regulate hormone levels and alleviate mood symptoms.
- Positive Programming: Engage in practices that promote positive self-talk, self-compassion, and a hopeful outlook on the future, replacing old, limiting beliefs with empowering ones.
- Lifestyle Adjustments: Incorporate stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises into your daily routine.
- Finding Meaning and Purpose: Many women feel the call to find more meaning and purpose in their lives, shifting away from materialism towards the spiritual. Women with a greater sense of meaning often experience reduced stress in the body, which contributes to a smoother menopause transition.
- Support System: Seek support from loved ones and join support groups to share experiences and strategies for managing emotional challenges during menopause.
Understanding that menopausal mood disorders are influenced by both hormonal changes and psychological factors empowers women to take a comprehensive approach to their emotional well-being. By addressing emotional root causes, adopting positive programming, managing hormonal fluctuations, and finding deeper meaning and purpose in life, women can feel lighter, more confident, and more hopeful about the future as they navigate the transition of menopause.
I hope, this information was helpful for you. If you feel identified with several of the symptoms above mentioned and feel that you cannot affront this alone, please don’t hesitate to search for help. Contact a therapist or your general health practitioner in order to guide you in the correct direction.