Menopause and Emotional Changes


Menopause, the time when a woman’s menstrual periods stop and she is no longer able to have children (usually between the ages 45-55), can be associated with a variety of emotions, both negative and positive. For some women menopause is the relief, release and happy time as they no longer have to worry about periods and using birth control pills. For others it is a tough time associated with moods swings, irritability, anxiety, feeling of sadness, difficulty concentrating, memory problems and even depression. Some women may even develop significant depressive symptoms after entering the menopause.

The exact cause of emotional changes is not quite clear. Some researchers believe that hormonal fluctuations, and namely declining estrogen levels, make a woman feel that she is in a constant state of premenstrual syndrome. Additionally, hormone fluctuations prompt changes in neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), which causes mood effects. Researchers have found that estrogen plays a major role in the production of serotonin in the brain, known as the mood regulating neurotransmitter. As far as hormone imbalances disturb the production of serotonin, there appear mood swings, depression and other psychological disturbances.

Emotional changes can also be brought on by such menopause symptoms as difficulty sleeping, decreased libido as well as feeling of sadness or at a loss because pregnancy is no longer possible. Many women feel uneasy about diminution of sexuality, sudden signs of aging and experiencing mental instability.