Menopause and Mental Health: Psychiatrist Sandeep Govil shares tips to stay mentally well during menopause.
Menopause refers to the natural stoppage of the ovulation and menstrual cycles. Perimenopause describes the year before menopause when the ovarian function begins to decline. The average age of menopause in India is between the age of 46 and 48. But usually, women may experience menopause anywhere between the ages of 41 and 50. Sometimes Menopause is Surgically Induced when uterus needs to be removed for management of illness. It usually starts with a change in the frequency of the menstrual cycle, changes in flow, irregular periods, hot flushes, sweating and sleep disturbances.
What Causes Menopausal symptoms?
It is the stopping of Ovulation which leads to decrease in Estrogen levels leading to the signs of the menopause, which are as follows:
- Physical symptoms such as insomnia, night sweats, fatigue, hot flashes, memory loss, tension and also, Low estrogen levels increase the risk for cardiac illnesses, like a heart attack.
- These symptoms can also cause emotional distress like mood changes, feelings of sadness, lack of motivation, increased irritability and aggression.
- In menopause, women are at increased risk for Osteoporosis, Dementia and Cardiovascular illnesses.
Mental health issues during menopause
Do you know that one in every five women suffers from depression during menopause? Women with a family or personal history of depression (including postpartum depression) are, particularly at high risk. Many women also experience problems with their Memory function; they may have difficulty remembering things or concentrating on specific tasks. Menopause may trigger a Depressive Episode, anxiety or panic disorder in women already predisposed to these mental illnesses. Women earlier mental illness earlier is also more vulnerable to a relapse.
Simple tips to stay mentally well during menopause
Dr Sandeep Govil, Consultant - Psychiatry, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh for your perusal shares some simple tips.
- Visit your Gynaecologist to rule out the possibility of a thyroid malfunction or a disease of the reproductive organs. Go for regular health check-ups.
- Exercise: Getting involved in regular exercise can help. Yoga and pranayama can help to stay flexible and maintain physical and mental health.
- Understand that your body is changing, and set your expectations accordingly. The focus should not on gaining weight rather than losing weight.
- Set aside some ‘me’ time and most importantly take time out for self-care. Indulge in an activity or hobby you enjoy.
- Paying attention to diet; eat more frequent meals in smaller quantities. Increase intake of fibre, natural vitamins, and minerals
- If you are overwhelmed and unable to cope, reach out to a counsellor or a psychiatrist immediately
- Get enough exposure to sunlight to prevent osteoporosis
- Family support can help to cope with menopause: No matter if the menopause is natural or surgical, constant support from family –especially from the spouse – can help a woman cope with the physical and emotional changes that menopause brings. The family needs to be aware of what the woman is going through.
When to seek Psychiatric help:
- No Improvement in Depressive symptoms even on giving the Hormone replacement therapy.
- When Depressive symptoms are prominent and severe to cause moderate dysfunction.
- Any idea of self-harm or worthlessness.
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