Deep Bench: How aging and menopause in women can impact mental health

Counselor Judy Lemke talks about the connection between menopause and mental illness (WZAW photo)
Counselor Judy Lemke talks about the connection between menopause and mental illness (WZAW photo)(WSAW)
Published: Jan. 16, 2020 at 5:36 PM CST
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Approaching middle age often brings stress and fear, and if you're a woman, you can be at an increased risk of developing a mental illness like clinical depression and anxiety.

Judy Lemke, a professional counselor and clinical social worker from Behavioral Health Clinic joined the Deep Bench on Thursday to discuss the topic. She said as a woman, you can’t escape menopause and it comes with changes both physically and emotionally.

“The estrogen levels are the things that decrease the most and fluctuates, but that’s not the only hormone that gets out of balance. So does dopamine, cortisol and the feel-good drugs. That can bring about mood changes and can create anxiety and depression.”

Lemke said when those changes happen, it can make it very difficult to control your emotions.

“The most common, you might feel irritable, you might feel very sad. You might be teary one minute and laughing the next, kind of feel like you’re all over the map and not know what to expect,” she explained.

Lemke add that it’s not something that everyone can understand, especially if you aren’t experiencing the same changes.

She went on to explain that if you have a history of postpartum depression, significant PMS or clinical depression prior to menopause, you’re most likely to experience a depressive episode during menopause.

“But there doesn’t seem to be a real specific, scientific proof that you will become depressed or anxious. And there’s a lot of women, about 25% that make it through menopause without any type of effects on their emotions, other than the physical effects.”

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