©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
It is important to stay positive while
growing through menopause and
embrace the changes you are
Sometimes physicians recommend that patients join support groups, because getting help and support with many confusing issues can make medical therapies work better. In fact, a California researcher found that women with breast cancer who participate in a regular support group make better recoveries than those who do not. Part of the aim is to keep spirits up and provide exposure to outside interests.
An additional benefit of belonging to a support group centered on a particular issue is that you can stay up-to-date on research into new treatments. Many support groups collect and circulate articles from popular and scientific publications and bring in experts to discuss their latest research. You may also be able to exchange special strategies for coping with hot flashes or sleeplessness. Besides the specific information you can pick up, just knowing that you are not alone can be a powerful therapy. Don't be afraid to seek out others who will understand you and your feelings. Find a support group; talking about it can help.
See a Professional If You Need One
Millions of women can deal with their stress in healthy ways -- prayer, meditation, humor, exercise, circles of friends, and family members to share life's burdens. However, there are times when the normal support systems fail, and for some women, there are not a lot of support systems to start with. If you find yourself at an impasse, trapped in a situation you do not know how to solve, you should consider seeing a professional. Here are some tips about finding appropriate professional care and what type of help you should seek -- at a price you can afford!
Let's discuss types of professionals with an emphasis on the mental health field:
- Psychiatrist: A doctor with a medical degree who has also had training (a residency) in psychiatry. In most states, only physicians can prescribe medications. A psychiatrist may or may not be experienced in psychotherapy. Some only deal with medications and severe psychiatric problems; others deal mainly with talking therapy.
- Psychologist: Usually a person with a Ph.D. degree. Psychologists also have a wide range of specialties; be sure that the person you want to see does the type of work you are interested in. Psychologists are particularly appropriate for individuals who need help sorting out personal issues and relationships.
- Psychiatric social worker: An individual with a master's degree and special training in psychological issues. They are particularly important sources of information for women whose stresses are largely due to extraneous social factors -- caring for aging parents or dealing with the social stresses resulting from an illness.
- Other physicians: Many family practitioners and other general doctors counsel patients in a variety of areas. Your family or personal doctor can be an excellent source of referrals to reputable mental health professionals and may be helpful in counseling as well.
- Clergy: The clergy can also be excellent sources of counseling and referrals. Many people feel more comfortable with pastoral counseling because of the added spiritual dimension.
Once you have started seeing someone, be sure it is a "good fit," that you feel comfortable with the individual, and that you find the relationship beneficial for you. If you have any concerns about the appropriateness of treatment, get another opinion. Your mental health is too valuable to lose!
Don't Let 'Em Get You Down
Are there days when family life, job situations, and maybe hot flashes all conspire against you? Don't let 'em get you down! You can cope with menopause and the rest of your life, too!
It's natural to feel down at times. Human nature dictates that you can't feel terrific all the time. All aspects of our lives become intertwined in our heads and result in mood changes. Stress that starts at your workplace can affect your home life, and the reverse is also true.
You've probably noticed that different women cope better than others with the stresses of midlife. Are you a woman who is like a duck with smooth feathers? Do you just let things "roll right off, like water off a duck's back?" If you are, circumstances probably don't get you down very often. However, if you are a worrier and fret that everything you do must always be perfect, you probably have lots of down moods.
For many women, stress increases when they feel a lack of support from those around them, whether the issues are of major significance, such as where to house aging parents, or small matters, such as where to seat a son-in-law's parents at the holiday table. Concentrate on being one of those women who can juggle lots of balls in the air and not worry if one or two of them drop once in a while.
Happy events can bring on stress and get you down, too. Even events such as planning a son or daughter's wedding, starting a new job, or planning a trip can make you feel overwhelmed. Caring support from those around you can help get you through these difficult times. Seek out this help. How you respond to stressful events in your life makes a big difference in your mood. Stressful events can be brought on by physical symptoms, such as hot flashes or side effects from medications, or by less tangible things, such as difficulties in getting along with significant people in your life or feeling trapped. Stresses may be circumstances involving your aging parents or grown-up children.
Does family life get you down? Around menopause, you may be part of the "sandwich" generation. Are you involved in your adult children's and grandchildren's lives and still find yourself caring for aging parents? Many find that as soon as their children have grown up, their parents' needs increase, and an increasing amount of time and energy is spent on caring for their parents. Population experts say that today's middle-aged women will spend more time caring for aging parents than they did raising their own children. Many women have financial concerns, too. Many women control the family purse strings, shouldering that responsibility, as well.
How can you keep your mood up most of the time? You can easily do several things for yourself. One of the most important is to eat regular meals. Crash diets or fad diets can lead to anxiety and depression. Well-balanced meals provide a slow release of necessary nutrients throughout the day. A steady release of energy can keep you on an even keel. Accept yourself with the shape you have. Of course, if you are overweight, you might feel better if you lost some of those excess pounds.
Most of all, you must learn to be comfortable with your changing body and changing roles. In fact, for many women, the years surrounding menopause can be the best years of their lives, as they enjoy their adult children and grandchildren or new interests and hobbies. The more positively you look at menopause, the more positive the experience -- and life -- will be.
The symptoms of menopause can be inconvenient or uncomfortable, but they are rarely medical emergencies. Fortunately, there are many effective home remedies you can use to make your transition easier.
For information on the topics covered in this article, try the following links:
- To see all of our home remedies, visit our main Home Remedies page.
- Menopause that befalls women in their forties or fifties, and causes such unpleasant symptoms as hot flashes and insomnia. Learn how to alleviate these conditions in Herbal Remedies for Menopause.
- To learn more about menopause and how it affects the body, read How Menopause Works.
- Osteoporosis is another common ailment that develops in later years. To learn how to cope with this condition, read Home Remedies for Osteoporosis.
Dr. Linda Hughey Holt practices obstetrics and gynecology with a special focus on menopause. She is the co-author of several books on women's health, including The American Medical Association Book of Woman Care. She attended Yale University and obtained her medical degree at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She is a founding partner of the Midwest Center for Women's Healthcare, an associate clinical professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Additional information on Dr. Holt is available at www.midwestcenterforwomenshealth.com.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.