Guest post from Harley Street at Home
I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed about my work by Nigel from Harley Street at Home: Menopause. Thank you to them for contributing this guest post for World Menopause Day 2022.
Menopause isn’t a mental health issue, far from it, but psychological symptoms of menopause shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand by women or their healthcare professionals.
Symptoms of anxiety, depression, low mood, irritability and more can be as debilitating as hot flushes, night sweats and fatigue, but are often overlooked from the perspective of hormonal fluctuations and menopause transition. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that over 50 percent of women are simply unprepared for.
An emotional journey
A woman’s menopause journey is complex, and every woman will need individualised support and guidance to make sense of what can be a challenging and overwhelming time in their lives. And while help is out there, even knowing where to start to navigate a healthcare system fraught with challenges can be emotionally draining in its own right.
It’s no wonder some women can’t even muster the energy to try, and those who do often give up with the barrage of constant knock backs and red tape. Life is tough enough without having to repeatedly justify feelings and emotions, let alone with the backdrop of unpredictable menopausal hormonal fluctuations.
Rachel Willett, a Transformational Therapist and Coach who specialises in helping women develop emotional resilience in menopause, explains: ‘Midlife can be transformative for women in so many ways, be that menopause or life changing events such as those that involve children, ageing parents, and career demands. Mental health challenges can seemingly appear out of nowhere and be overwhelming beyond measure, but there are therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that can help.’
Unfortunately, accessing treatment and help is very often more stressful than symptoms, and women frequently feel overwhelmed and intimidated at a time they most need help and support. High profile menopause campaigns are gaining ground, not least in the corridors of UK Government, but there is still a long way to go to end the healthcare lottery and ensure menopause equality for all.
Crying out to be heard
One size doesn’t fit all in menopause care – physically, mentally or emotionally. And while research into women’s health is historically underfunded, and menopause training still non-existent in most medical schools, it doesn’t excuse blanket prescribing of antidepressants when hormones are to blame.
Dr Sam Brown, a British Menopause Society accredited Menopause specialist GP, has a special interest in mental health. She’s keen to encourage women not to suffer in silence, despite challenges in the healthcare system: ‘Whatever the cause, it’s important to recognise when your mental health might need a helping hand and seek the right guidance and support. Don’t worry about tears or getting upset with yourself for being upset. Knowledgeable healthcare professionals do understand and shouldn’t judge you. Nor should you judge yourself.’
‘It’s also worth remembering that NICE guidelines (NG23) state that antidepressants shouldn’t be first line treatment for menopause. The system may not be perfect, but you’re not alone.’
An holistic approach
While not all healthcare is equal, British Menopause Society guidance is clear. All women should be able to access advice on how they can optimise their menopause transition and the years beyond. There should be an individualised approach in assessing and advising women, with particular reference to lifestyle advice and diet modification, as well as the discussion of the role of HRT and complementary therapies.
In short, an holistic approach to menopause management can help hormonal, physiological and social influences, all of which can contribute to emotional well-being. And as with most things menopause, lifestyle changes, however small, can make a world of difference.
Don’t suffer in silence.
About Harley Street at Home
Harley Street at Home: Menopause offers a caring and supportive online community to support women physically and emotionally through their menopause journey. The community empowers women with gold-standard, evidence based and holistic menopause care to help them take control of their own menopause journey and help them thrive, not just survive. Their expert knowledge base and team of experts helps women understand every aspect of their menopause journey from symptoms and treatment options, to lifestyle, wellness and weight management. They help demystify all things perimenopause and menopause, and make sense of the mayhem and confusion that menopause can bring.
Find out more at harleystathome.com