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5 mechanisms by which menopause affects mental health

Hot flashes! We all know, by now, that hot flash is one of the worst symptoms of menopause. But, if you think this is all you need to deal with during this phase, then you are in for a rude shock!

Most women know that menopause occurs because of the changes in the hormonal levels occurring in the body. And that is why; they also believe that these bodily changes can cause symptoms that are limited only to their physical health.

However, this is not true. The fact is the hormonal changes responsible for causing menopause can also affect your mental health, in not just one but several ways. Let me reveal 5 ways by which menopause affects mental health.

What is the effect of menopause on the mental health of women?

1.   Mood swings

The way you feel at any given moment depends largely on the chemical balance in your brain. Your moods are regulated by two basic forms of hormones that are called the stress hormones, and feel-good hormones.

Cortisol is the stress hormone that can create negative emotions like stress, anxiety, and fear. The feel-good hormones like dopamine, and serotonin, on the other hand, do the good work of creating a sense of happiness, and joy.

Now, what happens during menopause is the levels of these hormones do not stay stable and tend to fluctuate just too often. As a result, at one moment, you may feel very happy and ecstatic, while at the next moment, you may feel sad and even start crying.

Research studies have shown that all these swings in your moods occur due to the changing levels of estrogens in your body.

2.   Risk of depression

If you are already living a stressful life, you are at a higher risk of developing the symptoms of depression during menopause. Research studies have revealed that menopausal women have a higher risk of falling into depression due to the intense physical symptoms and hormonal changes occurring during this phase.

Hot flashes, mood swings, increased sweating, weight gain and other symptoms of menopause can make you frustrated and irritable thereby triggering the development of depression. Constant support from your family members, their love and affection, along with a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be beneficial for reducing the risk of depression during menopause.

3.   Worsens bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorders refer to a psychological condition characterized by alternative episodes of mania (during which patients feel extremely happy) and depression. You need to be more alert about the impact on menopausal on your mental health if you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorders.

Menopause has been proven to exacerbate the symptoms of bipolar disorder. The hormonal shifts occurring during menopause can worsen mood swings. As a result, the oscillation between the periods of manic and depressive episodes of bipolar disorder can become more intense.

4.   Risk of Schizophrenia

Changing estrogen levels during menopause may also produce a negative influence on some important psychological and neurological protective activities occurring in your brain. An imbalance in the levels of hormones may potentially trigger and aggravate the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Research studies have indicated that women with pre-existing schizophrenia are likely to experience worsening of their symptoms and a deterioration of their general health with a possibility of higher demand for medications.

5.   Eating disorders

Do you know the tendency to weight gain during menopause is partially linked to your mental health? With intense symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes and increased sweating keeping the menopausal women irritated and frustrated at all the time, it comes as no surprise that they try to forget the troubles by seeking refuge in junk foods.

These unhealthy snacks are laden with calories from fats and carbohydrates that are responsible for weight gain. While the impact of these dietary habits is evident in your physical health, it tends to arise from your emotional symptoms. So, during this period, you would be at risk of overheating with an attempt to forget the symptoms caused due to menopause.

However, some women may experience the opposite phenomenon as far as their dietary habits are concerned. Hormonal changes occurring during menopause can also increase the risk of eating disorders like anorexia by affecting your mental health.

Again, whether menopause causes overeating and weight gain or weight loss due to anorexia depends on the hormonal fluctuations occurring in your body. So, the all you can do is try guesswork and wait how your eating habits change due to menopause.

Conclusion

I can understand all this information might be too much for you to accept. However, you can take pride in the fact that only women have the guts and strength to accept this reality.

Having said that; it doesn’t mean you need to simply bear with the impact of menopause on mental health. You can improve your mental health during menopause by eating healthy foods and practicing stress-busting techniques like yoga and meditation.

I am sure the woman in you can do it and will do it to stay fit, mentally as well as physically, even during the most challenging phase of menopause.

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