Menopause and Emotional Changes

to have children (usually between the ages 45-55), can be associated with a variety of emotions, both negative and positive. For some women menopause is the relief, release and happy time as they no longer have to worry about periods and using birth control pills. For others it is a tough time associated with moods swings, irritability, anxiety, feeling of sadness, difficulty concentrating, memory problems and even depression. Some women may even develop significant depressive symptoms after entering the menopause.

The exact cause of emotional changes is not quite clear. Some researchers believe that hormonal fluctuations, and namely declining estrogen levels, make a woman feel that she is in a constant state of premenstrual syndrome. Additionally, hormone fluctuations prompt changes in neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), which causes mood effects. Researchers have found that estrogen plays a major role in the production of serotonin in the brain, known as the mood regulating neurotransmitter. As far as hormone imbalances disturb the production of serotonin, there appear mood swings, depression and other psychological disturbances.

Emotional changes can also be brought on by such menopause symptoms as difficulty sleeping, decreased libido as well as feeling of sadness or at a loss because pregnancy is no longer possible. Many women feel uneasy about diminution of sexuality, sudden signs of aging and experiencing mental instability.

Emotional changes related to menopause can range from mild mood swings to severe depression. Anxiety makes women fell worried, nervous, preoccupying or panicky.

Mild emotional changes can be managed through lifestyle changes, such as exercising, diet, yoga and breathing exercises. Many women find relief and relaxation in anti-stress occupations, such as meditation, taking up a new hobby or creative outlet. Such activities can help lift the mood and divert attention from these changes. Life style changes combined with alternative medicines such as herbs and supplements, which balance the hormonal levels naturally, or massage and acupuncture often produce the best results.

Fortunately, emotional ups and downs that often accompany menopause usually go away with time as the hormone levels settle down. Mild emotional changes are normal and temporary, however they may become a problem for some women. Feeling down for most of the day during several weeks can indicate depression. Clinical depression is more than a temporary state or a symptom of menopause. Consult your doctor if your emotions persist, interfere with your life or become severe. Your doctor may consider cognitive therapy or interpersonal therapy, antidepressant drug therapy or psychotherapy to help relieve your depressive symptoms.