What Do You Need to Know About Menopause and Mental Health?

Chills, hot flashes, weight gain, thinning hair, vaginal dryness- these are some of the typical physical symptoms women may experience during menopause.

That said, these dramatic hormonal shifts can undoubtedly impact your mood and emotional well-being. The relationship between menopause and mental health looks different for everyone, but it’s essential to be aware of how these changes can affect you. Let’s get into what you need to know!

What Happens During Menopause?

Women are born with eggs and ovaries that create estrogen and progesterone. These ovaries control menstruation and ovulation during your fertile years. Menopause occurs when your ovaries stop releasing eggs.

Menopause is a natural part of aging for all women. It can occur at any point during your 40s or 50s, with the average age being around 51. In some cases, specific medical procedures, like a hysterectomy or chemotherapy, will trigger menopause.

Perimenopause represents the first stage of this process, and it can last anywhere from 8-10 years.  During perimenopause, you may experience hot flashes and menstrual flow changes. However, the symptoms will range in severity, and it’s impossible to know exactly what to expect before it happens.

Later stages of perimenopause may consist of irregular menstrual cycles, night sweats and hot flashes, sleep problems, and vaginal dryness. Women reach menopause once they have stopped menstruating for twelve or more months.

How Does Menopause Impact Mental Health?

Menopause can affect your mental health in numerous ways. Because your hormone levels are changing, it’s reasonable to expect mood swings. These swings can range in intensity- some people report them as mildly distressing, but others might find them to be unbearable.


Some research suggests that women are 2-4x more likely to experience a major depressive episode during menopause than at any other point during their lifetime. Depression is a complex condition that may consist of symptoms including sadness, irritability, concentration problems, and appetite changes. In serious cases, depression may trigger suicidal or homicidal thoughts.

That said, it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly what triggers this depression. After all, menopause can often coincide with numerous other transitional stressors, including:

  • caregiving loved ones.
  • financial changes or getting ready for retirement.
  • preparing or coping with the empty nest.
  • new or chronic medical conditions.

Sexual Problems

Menopause can exacerbate or cause sexual problems. In addition, these issues can affect your self-esteem, relationships, and pleasure, all of which can affect your mental health.

Common sexual problems during menopause include:

  • having a diminished sex drive.
  • feeling less aroused to usual acts of touching or stoking.
  • experiencing pain during sexual activity.
  • feeling less confident due to mood or appearance changes.

Existential Concerns

Although aging is a normal process, it can be challenging to undergo these changes as they happen. For example, you may feel frustrated that your body no longer looks or feels the same it once did. Or you might feel hyperaware of your mortality and the life you already lived.

Although we may assume that midlife crises only apply to men, women can be just as susceptible to experiencing similar angst. Menopause can be a complex transition into a new life stage, and that change may trigger conflicting emotions.

How Do You Know When To Seek Help?

Make no mistake- just because something is “normal” doesn’t mean you have to suffer from it. In other words, even if it’s fairly typical for women to experience mood swings during menopause, that doesn’t mean you should assume you must “suck it up.”

If you are mainly struggling with physical symptoms, your primary care physician may be able to provide you with hormonal treatment options, such as estrogen therapy, medication to reduce hot flashes, or low-dose antidepressants.

You may need to try a few different options before finding what works best for you. But, in the best case, these treatments can reduce unwanted symptoms and help you with a smoother transition.

When Should You Consider Therapy?

Keep in mind that you don’t need a particular reason to “start therapy.” At any given time, you can decide it’s time to reach out for help. Qualified therapists know how to provide the support, structure, and resources needed to improve your quality of life.

But, as a general reminder, if you are struggling with any of the following signs, it might be worth reaching out for professional support:

  • consistent depression despite efforts to improve your mood.
  • feeling a sense of worthlessness or apathy.
  • experiencing suicidal ideation.
  • extreme sleep problems and ongoing fatigue.
  • excess anxiety.
  • recurrent forgetfulness.

These symptoms may correspond with menopause, but they might also indicate underlying mental health problems. Therapy can help you understand your emotional triggers. It also provides a nonjudgmental space to process your thoughts and feelings about these changes.

Menopause may feel challenging, but you don’t have to cope with this transition alone. We can work together to help you feel more comfortable and confident. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759

(512) 988-3363

Got Questions?
Send a Message!

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.