Strategies for Coping with Menopausal Malaise
Decreasing estrogen levels can cause more than just hot flashes and night sweats. Hormonal imbalances can also lead to depression and feeling like you are in a constant state of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). If you are experiencing feelings of sadness and irritability, chances are they are linked to peri/menopause. But don’t worry — you are not alone. These are a completely normal part of menopause. And there are steps that you can take to ease some of these symptoms. Read on for tips and strategies for dealing with feelings of malaise during peri/menopause.
Defining Malaise and Clinical Depression
Whether you're experiencing menopause or not, it's important to understand the difference between experiencing feelings of malaise and being diagnosed with clinical depression.
"Malaise" is defined as feelings of uneasiness, sadness, or even illness that you can't assign an exact cause to. These feelings can come and go quickly, or linger for days or even weeks. These feelings are compounded by the fact that you likely won't be able to place exactly why you're feeling bad.
If these feelings come and go, and you are able to continue to go about your normal, everyday schedule, this is one symptom that you can likely self-treat. Getting plenty of exercise, eating a healthy diet, and practicing self-care can help lessen feelings of malaise. However, if these feelings linger and you find it difficult to get through your day, you'll want to consult a doctor, who may diagnose you with clinical depression. While menopause doesn't directly cause depression, feelings of malaise coupled with other symptoms can put women at a higher risk of developing depression.
Symptoms of Menopause Depression
If you have a history of depression or experienced postnatal depression, chances are that you might have feelings of malaise during peri/menopause. This looks different for different women. Here are a few of the symptoms that you might experience:
- Fatigue and reduced energy levels
- Changes to your weight and/or appetite
- Feelings of apathy, emptiness, or sadness
- Forgetfulness and reduced concentration span
- A lack of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
- Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or oversleeping
6 Tips for Reducing Depression During Menopause
The hormones that control your menstrual cycle also play a role in the production of the ‘feel-good’ hormones in the brain. As with many other peri/menopausal symptoms, you can reduce menopausal sadness and irritability by adopting a few lifestyle changes. Here are a few examples:
1. Find the Right Supplements
With fluctuating hormone levels and increasing age, your body becomes less efficient at digesting certain foods and absorbing nutrients. It is vital to ensure that your body gets enough vitamins and essential nutrients to smoothly transition to menopause. Look for age-appropriate supplements such as the MenoFit® and Happy Fiber from MenoLabs®. The all-natural sleep aid, Well Rested, is a supplement that may help to calm your mind, sooth mood and nerves, and boost serotonin levels. The MenoLabs® natural supplements are specifically compiled with the peri/menopausal women in mind.
2. Stay Active
Exercising causes an increase in endorphins (feel-good hormones) in the body. A healthy exercise regime is vital for warding off many of the symptoms associated with menopause. At least thirty minutes of exercise five times per week is recommended.
3. Eat Right
Follow a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. To prevent see-sawing blood sugar levels and the mood swings that may go with them, eat foods that metabolize slowly. A good way to ensure stable blood sugar levels is to start your day off with a protein-rich breakfast.
4. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water helps your body function optimally and combat feelings of tiredness. Try to drink six to eight glasses of water per day.
5. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
Stimulants such as caffeine can exacerbate menopausal insomnia. Chronic sleeplessness may lead to irritability and depression. Alcohol is a depressant and can worsen feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety. Try to avoid using tranquilizers and sleeping pills. These may help in the moment, but won’t target the issue at its source.
6. Spend Time Outdoors
Fresh air and sunlight can help to boost your mood and energy levels.
5 Strategies for Working Through Feelings of Malaise During Peri/menopause
While making some healthy lifestyle changes can help to offset feelings of sadness and tiredness in peri/menopause, you may still find yourself facing tough days. When you do, use these strategies to work through your feelings in a healthy way.
1. Find a Self-Calming Practice
Meditation or mindfulness practices can help you work through bouts of frustration and anger. Flow yoga practices and rhythmic breathing can also help you to ground yourself and break away from the negative feelings
2. Engage in Creative Activities
Being creative can foster a sense of achievement. Doing something that you enjoy can keep you busy and help you focus on something positive. For example, gardening, woodwork, pottery, or a home DIY project.
3. Foster Connections with Friends and Family
Social connectivity is known to lessen feelings of depression. Foster relationships with women who are experiencing the same issues that you are. It helps to have someone who can empathize with you. Chatting to other women about their menopausal emotions and experiences may help put yours into perspective.
4. Be Honest
Be honest and open about what you are experiencing with your nearest and dearest. Explain to your family how you are feeling. Let them know of ways they can help you through the difficult moments. Empower them to help you.
5. Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can help you identify thoughts that make you feel bad and give you the tools to replace these negative thoughts with positive ones instead.
Seek Professional Advice
Sadness, mood swings, and irritability are common feelings to experience during peri/menopause. However, it can be tricky to discern these from symptoms related to clinical depression. If these feelings persist and you are concerned about your physical or mental health, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your clinician. Some signs that you need to seek professional help include being unable to do everyday tasks you once did with ease, feeling constantly fatigued even after getting plenty of rest, or having thoughts of self-harm. If you experience these or other symptoms of clinical depression, see a professional right away.