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World Menopause Day and Mental Health

Updated: Mar 2, 2023


World Menopause Day this year is on the 18th October, and the topic of focus is on mental health. The past 3 years have been challenging with COVID restrictions, and the additional health impact on the individual and healthcare institutions. As a private clinic, we have seen an increase in the number of people, in particular middle-aged women, presenting with physical and mental health issues.



A meta-analysis showed that women are twice as likely to suffer from mental ill-health in the middle age (1). Women in the peri-menopause and menopause have changes in hormones that impact on sleep, energy, memory and focus, with some women being more vulnerable to depression and mental illness. A UK based survey on peri-menopausal and menopausal women revealed that 99% of respondents said their peri-menopausal or menopausal symptoms had led to a negative impact on their careers, with a third calling the impact significant (2). 59% took time off work due to symptoms, and of those who took sick leave, a third of had anxiety or stress as a reason. With the average age of menopause being around 51, this is also a time when many women have gained an abundance of experience and have an incredible amount of expertise to offer in their workplace. However, an incredible 60% of women stated their workplace provided no menopause support.



Mood symptoms, poor concentration, forgetfulness are symptoms of menopause and peri-menopause which after proper medical evaluation can be effectively treated. It is important that women receive the proper clinical evaluation and offered menopause hormone therapy (MHT) where appropriate as there are licensed and safe formulations available, such as topical and bio-identical hormones (3). Some women may require anti-depressants or benefit from CBT, a form of talk therapy provided by a psychologist, and a shared decision process with their doctor is important when personalising treatment. Every woman’s experience of menopause is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all and working with a health provider trained in managing menopause and peri-menopause can mitigate symptoms and provide preventive strategies against future health risks.


Menopause and mental health have the spotlight this year and those who could benefit from learning more about this include the following:

  1. Women from their 30s with or without symptoms

  2. Women with persistent symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, mood swings, premenstrual symptoms, low mood, anxiety, stress, poor concentration, loss of focus and/ or memory loss

  3. Anyone with a personal or professional relationship with women

  4. Employers who want to understand how to support women

Strategies that address symptoms and prevent health risks should include:

  1. Specific lifestyle information for women on nutrition, movement, sleep and stress management

  2. Evidence-based hormonal, non-hormonal, supplements and complementary therapies

  3. Assessment for increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia as these are increased after menopause

Our group education programs have received outstanding feedback with 99% of participants engaging in the topic and 100% felt the training was interesting, helpful and actionable. 97% agreed that it was relevant to their business and 100% would recommend this to others.


Group programs allow information to be learnt in a leisurely pace and is useful addition to individual consultations with your health practitioner.


References:

(1) M. de Kruif, A.T. Spijker, M.L. Molendijk, Depression during the perimenopause: A meta-analysis, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 206, 2016, Pages 174-180, ISSN 0165-0327.

(2) Newson Health Research and Education. Impact of Perimenopause and Menopause On Work. https://balance-menopause.com/uploads/2021/10/Menopause-and-work-poster-RCGP.pdf

(3) Gleason CE, Dowling NM, Wharton W, et al. Effects of Hormone Therapy on Cognition and Mood in Recently Postmenopausal Women: Findings from the Randomized, Controlled KEEPS-Cognitive and Affective Study. PLoS Med. 2015;12(6):e1001833. Published 2015 Jun 2. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001833

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