From night sweats to headaches and palpitations, the physical symptoms of the menopause are perhaps the most well known. However, new stats reveal the toll that it can have on our minds too, with half of women saying their mental health and mood suffer as a result of it.
Of the 1,099 women between 50 to 60 surveyed in a poll commissioned by Woman’s Hour and BBC Radio Sheffield, a quarter shared that the menopause makes them want to stay at home and another 23 per cent said that it reduced their enjoyment of life. It also revealed our reluctance to talk about it and seek out support, whether that be at work or with health professionals. Only a third of women said they consulted a GP about a change in their mental health and 70 per cent told their employer about the change in their mood when experiencing its symptoms at work.
The psychological symptoms of the menopause include anxiety , depressive symptoms, low mood, memory loss, loss of self-confidence and low self-esteem . However, the research indicates that many of us may be unaware of them; 70 per cent said that they didn’t have a strong understanding of the menopause and as a result, some weren’t familiar with how far-reaching its impact would be.
“Our findings suggest that women don’t have enough information about the menopause,” said Karen Dalziel, editor of Woman’s Hour. “Whilst some of the physical symptoms are well known, we’ve discovered how the menopause is affecting women’s mental health.”
The average age for the menopause in the UK is 51 however, symptoms can usually start a few months or even years before your periods stop, according to the NHS ( perimenopause) and can last for about four years after your last period. Approximately one in every ten women can experience them for up to 12 years.
The findings illustrate the extent to which the menopause can affect women’s day-to-day lives. As it is not classed as an illness or mental condition, the symptoms are often not treated as seriously as they should be.
“The results of our poll show there is much to be discussed about the menopause and many stories to be heard," says Katrina Bunker, editor of BBC Radio Sheffield. "The impact clearly goes beyond the more commonly reported physical symptoms, often affecting people’s relationships, their jobs and clearly impacting mental health and well-being.”