The hormonal fluctuation that happens in women during perimenopause is linked to exacerbated mental illness, a recent study shows. The perimenopausal phase, which can begin in some women in their 30s, but most often it starts in women ages 40 to 44, is characterized by fluctuating levels of hormones like oestradiol, progesterone, and testosterone which impacts a spectrum of physical and psychological symptoms.
According to the study, Severe mental illness and the perimenopause, published in the Cambridge University Press, some psychological manifestations associated with perimenopause are anxiety, low mood, paranoia, anhedonia, irritability, dissociation, insomnia, and feelings of low self-worth.
These symptoms stem from the intricate interplay of hormonal changes with the brain. Individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions face a unique set of challenges during this transitional period, as the hormonal shifts may influence the severity of symptoms, alter responses to treatment and potentially reach a point where they meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental disorder.
The repercussions extend into the postmenopausal phase, with potential long-term implications for physical health outcomes.
“Women can spend up to 10 plus years in perimenopause and the hormones are a rollercoaster. said Dr. Tara Scott, a board certified OB/GYN and menopause practitioner. “Your hormones are all associated with your neurotransmitters. which are chemicals in your brain.”
Dr. Scott shared that during perimenopause there may be an increase in anxiety caused by higher levels of estrogen and it is possible to experience an increase in depression or PMS symptoms from the lack of progesterone, which normally reduces anxiety.
“One hundred percent of women will go through perimenopause and menopause and so what’s actually happening in your body is the brain is trying to send a signal back to the ovaries to ovulate, and because the eggs are old, the brain has to increase the signal. That makes estrogen go up causing anxiety,” Dr. Scott explained.
To support our body’s fight to process estrogen Dr. Scott advised cutting back on sugar, eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale and cabbage, as well as limiting alcohol. A key technique for supporting our body through perimenopause is to decrease stress by any means necessary.
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