Relieving anxiety and depression that comes with menopause


Focusing on being in the moment, as mindfulness advocates, could help manage mental health symptoms. — dpa

Doctors could offer meditation and talking therapies to help menopausal women with symptoms of anxiety and depression, researchers have suggested.

Analysis of 30 studies involving 3,501 women found mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may offer some relief, ranging from a small to medium effect on symptoms.

Experts behind the study said they were not suggesting such therapies should replace hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but could be considered alongside pills and patches.

The research, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders and carried out by University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom, involved data from 14 countries, including the UK and the United States.

Ten of the studies explored the impact of CBT on menopausal symptoms, while nine looked at mindfulness, a type of meditation in which people focus on being intensely aware of what they are sensing and feeling in that moment.

ALSO READ: Mindfulness meditation is proven to help reduce stress

Other studies looked at a range of interventions, including those based on “acceptance”, group counselling and marital support.

Women’s symptoms were measured using internationally-recognised questionnaires, and included a lack of interest in doing things, issues with sleep, low mood and anxiety.

The findings found that women’s low mood “significantly benefited” from CBT and mindfulness.

Data from 11 studies showed a small to medium effect when it came to improvement in anxiety, the researchers said, which equates to some alleviation of symptoms, though they would not be gone completely.

Individually, CBT had a small effect on anxiety, while mindfulness had a medium effect.

When it came to depression, CBT had a small to medium effect, while mindfulness had a small effect.

ALSO READ: Change your negative thoughts and behaviours with CBT

Overall, both interventions offered a medium to large effect on improvement in quality of life.

The authors found a small improvement in memory and concentration, but acknowledged the data in this area was weak.

They also said it was unclear from the studies how long the effects might last for women.

Lead study author and UCL professor of clinical psychology of ageing Dr Aimee Spector said there was some evidence that mindfulness could be offered alongside HRT to women.

Around 30% of women going through menopause have a first depressive episode, while “anxiety is highly prevalent” and half of women report tension, nervousness or irritability, she said. – PA Media/dpa

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