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Mental Health and Menopause
Menopause is a high-risk time for new-onset, recurrence, or worsening of psychiatric problems due to a wide range of biological (hormonal changes), psychological (appraisals of perimenopausal symptoms), and social (cultural meanings of aging) factors. Approximately 25% of people report problematic physical or psychiatric menopausal symptoms that affect quality of life.
Perimenopausal persons are at greater risk for mood and anxiety problems if they are experiencing problematic vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes) or insomnia, and studies also show that depressed mood worsens preexisting vasomotor symptoms.
Menopausal distress disproportionately affects BIPOC and low-income people and they are less likely to seek out help for mental health problems due to barriers at the community, provider, and systems levels.
There are several evidence-based options for treating mood problems in menopause including psychotropic medications (SSRIs) and non-medication options such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness. Treating mood, anxiety, and general menopausal distress is crucial in improving other bothersome perimenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, increasing adherence to medical treatment, improving lifestyle factors that affect perimenopausal symptoms, and improving quality of life. At the UCLA Menopause Program, we screen everyone for mood disturbance and stress, insomnia and hot flashes. We work with our specialists to come up with an individualized treatment plan for you.