In most women, Menopause is associated with a wide variety of emotions, both positive and negative. For some it may even be a relief, but for others it can trigger numerous negative emotions, including anxiety and sadness.
- 1 Symptoms of menopause
- 2 At what age does menopause occur?
- 3 Hormonal changes and emotions
- 4 Depression, anxiety and menopause
- 5 Managing emotions related to menopause
Symptoms of menopause
The most common symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause are the following:
- Changing or irregular periods
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Anxiety, mood swings, irritability and depression
- Loss of confidence, feelings of being invisible
- Changes in libido or sexual desire
- Weight gain
- Dry Skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Leakage or urinary urgency
- Aches and pains in muscles and joints
Many of these symptoms are a consequence of changes in the production of hormones, specifically by the reduction of ovarian estrogen. At this stage, many women may have the period. This causes confusion, since it is not uncommon to have early symptoms of menopause while still having menstruation.
What exactly are hot flashes?
Hot flashes or hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. They affect approximately 80% of women.
Along with irregular periods, hot flashes are one of the main signs of the onset of menopause. For most women, hot flashes occur occasionally and do not cause much distress. However, for a smaller percentage, around 20%, hot flashes can be serious and interfere with your quality of life and especially sleep. Women tend to experience hot flashes for about two years, but for around 10%, hot flashes can continue for up to 15 years!
What does it feel like to have a hot flash?
A hot flash is a vasomotor symptom which may vary in intensity and duration. A hot discharge can last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes. A brief and unexpected sensation of intense heat is usually experienced that makes the face and neck feel red and hot and possibly look stained. Some women explain that they feel like a sudden discharge of blood from the toes to the top of their heads. They can feel very hot and then cold. Hot flashes can sometimes cause rapid or irregular heartbeats and pulsations, including heart palpitations.
During and after a suffocation, some women experience headaches, tremors and dizziness. These Physical symptoms can aggravate psychological symptoms, such as feelings of anxiety, depression and lack of confidence.
Why do hot flashes occur?
Hot flashes are caused by fluctuating levels of hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone. These fluctuations affect the operation of hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for controlling body temperature, appetite, sex hormones and sleep.
Hot flush triggers
Hot flashes they can be caused by caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol and external heat sources, such as a hot bath or an overheated room. For some women, stress and tension can cause more frequent hot flashes. On the other hand, Women who smoke tend to be more than twice as likely to experience intense hot flashes than women who have never smoked.
At what age does menopause occur?
Menopause symptoms usually begin in the mid-40s in what is called the perimenopause. At this stage, the symptoms may be mild. By the end of the 40s, most women will have noticed some physical changes in periods and body temperature. They may also already experience certain psychological problems such as anxiety, diffuse thinking, memory lapses or poor confidence.
Hormonal changes and emotions
Approximately 70% of women are affected by the symptoms of menopause that are caused by the change in hormone levels. Hormonal changes in menopause can contribute to depressed mood and feelings of anxiety, and it is possible that your emotions range from joy to frustration in the blink of an eye.
Menopause can be an emotional roller coaster
Some women experience feelings of euphoria, tranquility and relief during menopause, since they no longer have to worry about the period or using contraceptives. In fact, many women report that they are happier after menopause than before.
However, for other women, rapid fluctuations of hormones and physical changes associated with menopause can lead to mood swings, anxiety, irritability, feelings of sadness, difficulties with memory and concentration, and even depression.
Depression, anxiety and menopause
Women are at an increased risk of developing significant depressive symptoms after entering menopause, even if they do not have a history of depression. Some research has shown that women between 45 and 64 years - a period of time that coincides with menopause - is when they have the least emotional well-being compared to any other age group or gender.
Hormonal changes are partly to blame for the depressed mood and feelings of anxiety that women usually experience at the time of menopause, but by themselves they are not the cause of an emotional disorder. Most women make the transition to menopause without experiencing any type of mood disorder.
Identifying what is a symptom associated with menopause and what is a "true" depression or anxiety disorder can be confusing. In addition, anxiety symptoms often get worse with menopause due to increased sensitivity to symptoms. What could begin as a heat surge due to the hot flashes of this phase, could lead to an anxiety attack.
In turn, the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats can affect mood and cause some women to get depressed. Many remain awake at night because night sweats prevent them from sleeping normally, so during the day they feel exhausted, they cannot think clearly and their emotions are more negative.
Depression and depressed mood at the time of menopause are more likely to occur due to factors other than menopause, which include:
- Previous episodes of depression
- High levels of stress
- A negative attitude towards vital events
- Dissatisfaction with relationships
- Low self-esteem
- Poor body image
- Unhealthy lifestyle: not exercising or drinking alcohol
Emotional health during menopause is also more likely to be influenced by experiences of previous traumatic events, such as sexual abuse in the past, for example. Women often seek help during menopause to work the traumas they have experienced in the past. This moment of life seems to allow many things to surface.
On the other hand, research suggests that Women who have surgical menopause and / or early menopause are more likely to experience clinical depression than women who have a "natural" menopause. This seems to be caused by the more sudden change in hormones that comes with a surgical menopause and may also be related to the disease that caused the surgery in the first place, such as the diagnosis of cancer.
Managing emotions related to menopause
As we have already seen, menopause-related emotions can vary from mild mood swings to severe depression. Anxiety can make a woman feel worried, nervous or even panicked.
Many mild emotional symptoms of menopause can be controlled by lifestyle changes, such as finding ways to relax and reduce stress. Many women also find relief from their symptoms thanks to complementary and alternative therapies such as:
- A healthy diet
- Breathing exercises
- The soy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is used to treat physical symptoms, can also help relieve depression and / or anxiety. associated with menopause. Although data from recent studies suggest that estrogen improves depression in women in the transition to menopause (irregular menstrual periods), but not in postmenopausal periods (12 months or more after the last menstrual period).