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What kinds of emotions may I experience during menopause?

Just as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can trigger chocolate cravings and crankiness, fluctuating hormone levels can cause emotional symptoms, too. Sadness, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, and aggressiveness are some of the feelings that can crop up along your journey. While most women go through menopause without serious emotional health issues, about 20-25% will experience depression. If you had mood swings before your monthly periods or if you had depression after giving birth, you may be more prone to mood issues during menopause. However, as the North American Menopause Society points out, a positive outlook toward the challenges and changes of menopause can help women find a sense of freedom and personal growth at this time of life. It is important to know that depression is not a normal state of mind and that clinical help is available. If you think you have signs of depression, talk to your doctor or a counselor.

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Going through menopause is a different experience for everyone. For many women, the end of monthly bleeding and premenstrual symptoms is a welcomed change. For others it can be a period of mourning, for their youth, fertility and sexual vitality. So if you do feel happy and relieved about menopause, that’s great, but don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you if you don’t.

If you have spent most of your life seeing the glass as half full, it is possible that the glass could tip over while you transition through menopause. Hot flashes, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety and irritability come from fluctuating hormones and can be quite distressing and frustrating, especially for women who are unaccustomed to feeling this way. The good thing is, these chemical changes and the effects they have on your mood and personality are oftentimes treatable.

Talk to your doctor about what might work best for you. In the meantime, keep up with those steps, eat like a Med, and try to incorporate some stress zapping yoga, tai chi or deep breathing.

Dr. Shelley C. Giebel, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Often women feel relieved that they can't get pregnant. Not only that, children may be out of the home and you finally achieve that privacy you so longed for. Finances may be more secure and less stress is felt. Insecurities and inhibitions disappear because they just don't seem so important. What a great time in life!

Menopause can bring negative feelings about getting older or disappointments in how one's life has turned out. Also, negative emotions or sad feelings can come from the reality of not being able to have children anymore. At this midlife stage, negative emotions can also come from unhappy relationships or not having a life partner or established relationship.

On the other hand, as the North American Menopause Society points out, a positive outlook toward the challenges and changes of menopause can yield positive results, helping women find a sense of freedom and growth at this time of life. Many women feel relieved when monthly periods end and the worry of birth control and pregnancy are gone. This doesn't happen to all women, but this change of life can actually be very liberating. Your sexuality and femininity are still a part of who you are and many women feel more positive sexually.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.