Menopause is a phase in life that many people experience. It begins at ages 40 and up. There are however, instances of early menopause where some people start before age 40. “Menopause" refers to a time when a person stops menstruating. After the cessation of menstruation, individuals can no longer get pregnant and give birth. Here you will find articles about Menopause, how it begins, the signs and symptoms to expect during this natural phase of life, and how to manage the physical and emotional challenges that naturally come with it.
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Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
Menopause is a time in life that usually occurs in the ages of late 40’s to mid-’50s. It is referred to as “the change,” because it means that individuals stop getting their period (or menstrual cycle) and marks a change going on inside of their bodies. It has to do with hormones — the hormonal changes that occur during menopause cause a lot of physical and emotional challenges. The physical difficulties include hot flashes, night sweats, chills, anxiety, decreased libido, and sometimes hair loss. While the mental and emotional challenges are different, going through menopause can cause significant psychological problems.
Menopause and Mental Health
With the beginning of menopause comes the end of childbearing years. For some people, making the transition into menopause is difficult emotionally. Knowing that you are no longer going to be able to have children can be sad. Maybe they’ve already had children, and raising kids has already been a part of their life. Alternatively, maybe they haven’t had children yet, and this is a sign that their opportunity to have kids is ending. It could also be a symbol of going into a new phase of life that they’re afraid to enter. It’s like moving on from the first part of your life into the middle section - it is a transition, and that causes anxiety for some people. For others, it can also cause depression. Both ideas are understandable. Change can be hard. It's compounded by the hormonal effects, which can intensify the genuine mental and physical challenges that are already happening.
Anxiety During Menopause
Having anxiety during menopause is entirely natural. When you’re changing rapidly, in your body and mind, it can feel overwhelming and downright scary. It’s not easy transitioning from one part of your life to the next. You don’t know what to expect from one day to the next. One day you might have insomnia, and the next you might be sleeping well. Maybe you’re coping with hot flashes one evening, and the next night you feel depressed. Menopause can be an unpredictable time, and that uncertainty causes many people anxiety. Be honest with your partner if you are experiencing any anxiety or other mental health issues related to menopause. Your partner can support you during this time.
How to Cope
All of the aspects of menopause are challenging. Whether you’re dealing with hot flashes or riding the emotional rollercoaster that comes along with the transition from the first part of your life to mid-life. You may not know what symptom to address first, and that’s natural. You can start by going to see a medical provider and talking about your struggles. One way to cope with menopause is to see your general practitioner and discuss the symptoms that you’re having; both physical and emotional. Remember that it’s not just hot flashes or night sweats. Mood swings are a real part of menopause, and you need to talk about how they impact your day-to-day life. Whether you’re waking up in a cold sweat or switching from angry to sad in a matter of moments. These are real symptoms of this condition. A general care doctor may not be able to manage the mental health issues you’re experiencing directly, and that’s where counseling can be highly valuable. In addition, seeing a therapist that specializes in menopause transitions can help people going through menopause get through this challenging time. It's also important to remember that this is an opportunity to reconnect with yourself. What makes you happy? Indulge in your favorite activities, and make plans with people you love.
You don’t have to go through menopause alone. You might feel like nobody understands what you’re going through, but that’s not true. You can discuss what you’re experiencing in therapy whether that’s online or in a local therapist’s office. If you choose online counseling, you have the advantage of working with a provider on your time and seeing them in a place where you feel safe and comfortable. Online counseling is an excellent resource to help you work through menopause with a mental health professional who cares about your wellbeing. You can talk to a counselor in the privacy your home, and find ways to cope with the physical and emotional changes that you’re experiencing. If you’re interested in learning more about online counseling, you can search the network of online counselors at BetterHelp and find one that is right for you.