The menopause roller coaster – Let me get off!
If women could write a book about the emotional changes during perimenopause and menopause stages, it would probably be called, “The Menopause Roller Coaster – Let Me Get Off!”
It’s not always a roller coaster. Some women experience exhilaration, relief and release, since they no longer worry about periods or using birth control. Studies show that many women report no negative emotions.
For other women though, the rapid hormone fluctuations and physical changes associated with menopause can lead to mood swings, anxiety, irritability, difficulty with memory and concentration, sadness and even depression.
While fluctuations in reproductive hormones associated with physical symptoms, like hot flashes or aches and pains can cause distress, social theories also point to changes in the family like loss of a partner, departure of children, or lack of meaningful employment as possible culprits in negative mood states.
Other causes of the menopause mood rollercoaster include difficulty sleeping, as well as increased feelings of sadness or loss because pregnancy may no longer be possible.
Let’s go through some of the emotional changes experienced during menopause.
Some of the emotional changes experienced by women undergoing peri menopause or menopause include:
- feelings of sadness
- lack of motivation
- difficulty concentrating
- mood swings and tension
Mild emotional symptoms of menopause can be successfully managed through changes in lifestyle, such as learning relaxation and stress reduction techniques.
Tips to handle that roller coaster ride:
- eat a healthy, balanced diet
- adopt a calming skill such as yoga, meditation or breathing exercises
- avoid tranquilizers and alcohol
- engage in a creative outlet that invokes a sense of achievement
- stay connected with your family and friends
Self – management techniques to help deal with the emotional roller coaster
Deep breathing, paced respiration or any breathing exercise techniques represent a behavioral intervention that may help to reduce symptoms related to menopause.
One of the techniques recommended to manage hot flashes is deep breathing. Inhale deeply and then exhale, trying to make your exhalation as long as your inhalation (count). Repeat several times as needed.
Women with severe respiratory conditions may need to do this under expert supervision.
Yoga is an ancient discipline of the mind, body and spirit originating in India, at least 4000 years ago. It involves physical poses, breathing exercises (Pranayama), and meditation to calm the mind, increase awareness, and enhance both mental and physical well-being.
The simple meaning of mindfulness is “remembering and maintaining to be aware” – of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surroundings whether it be during meditation, or doing anything – anywhere, any time.
Being mindful involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. Mindfulness training teaches focus on the present moment and not “overthinking.”
Mindfulness is a good technique that can be learned and incorporated into daily life to help manage anxiety and improve well-being during this transition.
A simple explanation of meditation is the concept of clearing the mind of thoughts to achieve a subconscious state of mind.
If you’re new to meditation, conduct an internet search – sites like YouTube offer many instructional videos. Start with a 10 to 15-minute guided meditation and gradually increase the length.
Find a quiet place and use headphones to follow the instructions; close your eyes and enjoy the process. Thoughts may come to your mind when you first start meditating; let them come and let them go. Don’t hang on to them and keep following the guided meditation you’ve selected.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
CBT is the most widely used therapy for anxiety disorders. The basic premise of cognitive behavioral therapy is that our thoughts – not external events – affect the way we feel. In other words, it’s not the situation you are in that determines how you feel, but your perception of the situation.
For people with anxiety disorders, negative ways of thinking fuel the negative emotions of anxiety and fear. The goal of CBT is to identify and correct negative thoughts and beliefs.
The concept is simple: change the way you think, change the way you feel.
Research suggest that CBT can be successfully used to manage hot flashes and ease insomnia.
There is no quick fix. Managing the variety of emotional changes triggered by menopause takes time and commitment. You’ll reap the benefits however, by sticking to a method that works best for you.