Managing mental health during your midlife

Menopause can have a very difficult and strong impact on a woman, especially because of the changes in estrogen hormone levels. This in turn affects her mood and can lead to various mental health problems. Read the full article to know more.

By Stone Soup,
Published Aug 29, 2022

Women who are in their 40s are said to be experiencing something known as a "midlife crisis," which is one of the most common problems in this age group. One of the potential causes of mental health issues for women of this age is menopause. Menopause can have a very difficult and strong impact on a woman, especially because of the changes in estrogen hormone levels. This in turn affects her mood and can lead to various mental health problems. This condition can be brought on by a variety of other factors as well. The skin's ageing with signs like wrinkles and sagging can be difficult for a woman, especially with how faulty beauty standards have always been.

How does your sex life affect your mental health?


At this age, marriage can provide a number of difficulties and challenges for a number of different women. After the age of forty, estrogen levels plummet during menopause and the years preceding it, known as perimenopause. This modification has a significant impact on your sexual function. It can reduce desire and make it more difficult to become aroused, and the loss of confience makes an adverse effect on your sense of self. The circumstantial factors that often characterize the phase of life when you are 45-55 years have been described already and given as possible contributors to feelings of low mood and anxiety, in combination with the changes we have described to your hormone levels.

Physical changes in perimenopause and menopause can significantly affect the way you view yourself and how attractive you feel to your partner, not to mention society as a whole. These physical changes might be weight gain and body shape differences, hair loss and dullness, dry skin with more wrinkles or acne, or a host of other physical changes. Your libido may have reduced, and if you’re feeling unattractive, your sense of your own sexuality can be challenged too.

Menopause can also cause the vaginal canal to become less flexible and induce vaginal dryness, which can make sexual activity unpleasant. More than a third of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women report sexual issues, ranging from a lack of desire for sex to difficulty reaching an orgasm.

Make sure to take your time to prepare yourself and your body before having sex. Indulging in a good amount of foreplay always helps. You can also apply a water-based lubricant to help enjoy the intercourse and make it less painful. Try to avoid using douches, bubble baths, scented soaps, and lotions around the sensitive vaginal area. These products can aggravate dryness. It is extremely important to convey your feelings and thoughts to your partner. The symptoms that you are facing and the irritation caused by menopause add to your mental health issues and sharing it with a loved one will ease the stress. If your partner is having difficulties in understanding your situation, consulting a menopause specialist or going for couples therapy is ideal.  

Moving from a reproductive phase of life to a phase marked by a loss of fertility can also stir up unpleasant feelings around the loss of youth, and maybe even your usefulness and purpose in life, especially for some cultures. These changes can affect your identity and sense of worth and value, and ultimately lead to a lower self- esteem.

If you have stopped doing things you enjoyed, either because of physical or emotional menopausal symptoms, this can also affect your sense of self and identity, especially if you valued those things greatly and felt they were a significant part of who you are. Speaking to a trained professional can help guide you in the right direction.

The onset of anxiety and panic attacks

Anxiety and panic episodes are common problems for women over the age of 40. The symptoms of panic attacks can be extremely overwhelming. Taking deep breaths and practising yoga on a daily basis can significantly help to reduce anxiety and calm the mind. 

It is very difficult to control how you are feeling when you are experiencing anxiety. In a situation like this, you must make an effort to get some kind of aid, like therapy or professional counselling sessions. A professional can guide you in the correct ways to help reduce anxiety.

Depression 

Depression is regrettably very common in middle-aged humans, even more so in women than in men. It is a condition that can occur when the emotional tensions become too great without any relief or resolution in sight. Depression may be extremely harmful and frightening, which is why it is essential to muster the fortitude to get out of bed and go for professional assistance. Changes in your hormones during menopause can impact your mental health as well as your physical health. You may experience feelings of anxiety, stress, or even depression. Visiting a therapist or counsellor, despite the fact that it might not be what you want to do right now, is something that can significantly alter the course of your life. Other than that, sharing your feelings with your family can really make you feel calmer and at peace. A lot of times, women and their families are unaware of the fact that they are going through menopause. They treat it as a normal phase in their lives and are often left confused about the sudden and drastic change in their personality. Telling your family would make them more understanding and empathetic towards your feelings and what you are experiencing. Getting support from your family will make you feel closer to them and also feel loved. This kind of support and love is very important while you go through menopause.

Have the “menopause talk” with your family

During menopause, the various changes that the body is going through also reflect on the mood. A decline in estrogen levels leads to symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue and depression. Women often feel like they have nobody to talk to in their family and that nobody in the family understands what they are going through. It is important to note that your family will not understand what you are going through unless you express your emotions and talk to them openly about all your symptoms. An open-minded conversation can go a long way and also promote family bonding.

Take the help you need!

While you’re going through menopause, you may be more vulnerable to the aggravation of underlying conditions such as sadness and anxiety. When it comes to the majority of issues, prevention is always better than cure. It is also important to realise that the mental symptoms of menopause are as real as the physical ones, and you should not wait to seek help if you are struggling. For some people, these issues are complex and may result in a diagnosis of a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. Other routine changes such as eating a healthy balanced diet, practising yoga or any other form of aerobic exercise for 20-30 minutes a day, and sharing your feelings with your family and close friends about your symptoms can help in more ways than one.

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