Mastering the Emotional Olympics of Menopause

When you think of menopause symptoms, hot flashes and night sweats might first come to mind. But there are emotional symptoms that can be difficult to navigate, too. Don’t stress, we’ve got you. Let’s dive into ways to manage both the emotional and physical changes that can accompany menopause. 

When menopause first comes to mind, what common symptoms do you think of? Our guess would be hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, and missed periods. Sounds…challenging, right? These common physical symptoms are caused by diminishing estrogen as you go through perimenopause.  But menopause symptoms go far beyond physical manifestation. The change in hormones often sparks changes to your emotions and moods, too. Sleep disruption can also contribute to mood swings from sheer exhaustion! As if menopause isn’t stressful enough, for many women, the life pressures that often accompany the 40s and 50s are all-consuming. At a time when many women are at the peak of their careers, dedicating many hours on the job, they’re also juggling child care, caring for aging parents, or suddenly confronting an “empty nest.” It’s…a lot to balance. With all this in mind, let’s dive into the most common mood changes of menopause and what you can do to help manage them.
Mood Swings, Anger, and Anxiety About 4 out of 10 women have emotional symptoms similar to what women experience during PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, due to hormone changes in perimenopause.  Some of the changes include:
  • Mood swings
  • Anger or crankiness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Loss of self-esteem
Studies show that the risk of depression increases during the menopause transition.  You’re more likely to experience symptoms of depression if you have had it before in your life.  
Lifestyle and Medications If you’re finding it difficult to cope with your symptoms—and they’re taking over your life—talk to your WIN Nurse Care Advocate. There isn’t a one-size-fits all approach to supporting symptom relief. Your WIN Nurse Care Advocate can discuss your symptoms with you and refer you to a menopause specialist best suited to help you navigate your unique circumstances and find a that works for you. Whether that’s antidepressants to help with depressive and anxiety symptoms or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to stabilize your mood.  Getting better sleep can help a great deal with the emotional aspects of perimenopause, since sleep deprivation contributes to anxiety and depression, and those symptoms can contribute to sleep disruption. We always recommend practicing good sleep hygiene, starting with the basics:
  • Establish your bedtime and morning routines—and stick to it—by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day.
  • Skip your afternoon/evening caffeine, as its effects can linger for 8 hours. 
  • Avoid screens, including your phone (yes, even in dark mode), the hour before bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and opt for sweat-wicking bedding and PJs. 
Other lifestyle changes may also help, especially ones that help you manage stress.  Eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, practicing yoga or meditation, and exercising moderately have all been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. 
Facing Emotional Triggers For some women, menopause triggers emotional issues around aging and women’s place in society. It’s important to realize that you are far more than your childbearing and child rearing capabilities, and that post menopause can be a time of greater freedom than ever before. If you find yourself drowning in negative thoughts, seeing a therapist may help. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you stop negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones. Have other questions about menopause? Let’s talk! WIN Nurse Care Advocates are experts in identifying menopause symptoms and can work with you to find a solution best suited for you. 

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