Beat Apathy: Your Menopause Guide to Mood Swings, Lack of Energy, Depression & Anxiety

Your Menopause Guide to Mood Swings, Lack of Energy, Depression & Anxiety

Adapted from The North American Menopause Society: The Menopause Guidebook

It’s not unusual to feel like you’re losing some of your emotional stability and energy during peri-menopause. Many women report tearfulness, mood swings and anxiety, and as many as 43% of midlife women complain of loss of energy throughout the menopause transition and 2 years post menopause. This can be an opportunity for positive transformation and growth, but some women feel overwhelmed, out of control, angry, or numb. Read more to discover how to beat apathy and continue to live a vibrant life.

Mood changes. Mood symptoms may be related to the fluctuating and ultimate decline in ovarian hormone levels, and sleep deprivation associated with night sweats often results in fatigue, irritability, and moodiness. Abrupt hormonal changes during perimenopause only worsen these symptoms.

Depressed mood during perimenopause is often associated with a history of depressed mood (including premenstrual syndrome and postpartum depression) earlier in life or with severe menopause-related symptoms such as hot flashes. Other causes of mood disturbances during perimenopause include thyroid disorders, medication side effects, and life stresses. In a society that values youth, midlife women often experience changes in self-concept, self-esteem, and body image. But with a few adjustments, and a little support and encouragement there’s no reason that menopausal women can’t still have the best years of her life.

Creating balance. Recognizing a problem is the first step to finding ways to beat apathy. Emotional health during perimenopause requires a balance between self-nurturing and the obligations of work and caring for others. Many women can identify and describe sources of tension and symptoms of stress, but may still find it difficult to take time for themselves. Although many stressors cannot be altered, coping skills can enable women to meet life’s challenges and create a renewed sense of self-confidence, balance, and harmony.

These include participating in new activities with friends, eating three nutritious meals a day, exercising daily and getting enough sleep each night. You could also try self-care activities such as a massage or pedicure, or stress reduction and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation.

When more help is needed. When coping skills and lifestyle changes are not sufficient to relieve symptoms of stress, a healthcare provider can help determine the cause of mental health stressors, assess options, and prescribe appropriate treatment.

But what about when depression and anxiety are so severe that these simple fixes don’t work? When a perimenopausal woman say she feels “depressed,” it’s important that a healthcare provider distinguish whether she is feeling blue or if she is actually clinically depressed, a condition associated with a chemical imbalance in the brain. A combination of symptoms such as prolonged tiredness, loss of interest in normal activities, sadness, irritability, sleep disturbances, agitation, weight changes, and decreased sex drive that last for more than 2 weeks can indicate this condition.

Women who’ve had depression in the past are vulnerable to having it again during perimenopause. For severe depression, antidepressant medications can be prescribed to correct the chemical imbalance and help to beat apathy.

Anxiety can be related to depression. And while menopause doesn’t cause anxiety, women may experience more anxiety because of how they react to physical and psychological changes during perimenopause, along with other midlife stressors. Although anxiety usually resolves without treatment, it may accompany or be a warning sign of a panic disorder. Symptoms of a panic attack include shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, heart palpitations, or feelings of being out of control or “going crazy.”

Sometimes, the unsettling feelings that precede a hot flash can trigger such an attack. Several treatments are available to relieve severe symptoms of anxiety, including prescription drugs, relaxation and stress reduction techniques, counseling, and psychotherapy.

Although some people feel embarrassed or even ashamed about revealing their mental health problems, seeing a mental health professional can be extremely reassuring—and no one should suffer in silence. Seeing a mental health professional may be the first step in helping you beat apathy as you experience menopause.

To purchase the full version of The North American Menopause Society: The Menopause Guidebook, go to

Vibrant Voice Ambassador at Replens
The Vibrant Voice Ambassador’s mission is to collect interesting stories and useful articles that are relevant for mature women.  Our goal is to help you maintain an active lifestyle - to Fifty and Beyond!
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