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Are you sitting in brain fog at the moment? Forgetting the simplest things? Experiencing incredible rage and dramatic mood swings? If you are also experiencing peri menopause, it is likely to be related. The decrease in oestrogen being produced by your body directly impacts your cognition and mood.

We know that these changes can be dramatic and unsettling for many women, especially when you are experiencing them for the first time. The lack of education and awareness of peri menopause and menopause, combined with a lack of understanding by some GPs and medical professionals often leads to a misdiagnosis of a mental health condition. 

We want women all over Australia to be empowered with knowledge and strategies to not only survive but absolutely thrive through this life phase. Firstly, let’s begin by exploring cognition and menopause.

Cognition & Menopause

During peri menopause many women feel like they are experiencing the onset of dementia. Constantly forgetting simple things – where you left your phone or keys, recalling names or other important information – which leads you to believe you are heading towards a life with dementia.

However, the major contributing factor is the decline in oestrogen, as well as fluctuating hormones, which directly affects the brain and impacts your cognition. Oestrogen plays an important role in protecting your brain, learning and memory.

The cognitive functions that may be affected during peri menopause include:

  • Concentration
  • Brain fog
  • Forgetfulness
  • Capacity to think clearly
  • Short term memory
  • Verbal fluency
  • Visual memory
  • Ability to focus
  • Low self esteem
Moods & Menopause

Are you enveloped by extreme rage in the blink of an eye? The power of your rage may even surprise you once you have calmed down and have you wondering where it came from. At a recent workshop we ran, a woman described her menopause mood similar to road rage. She was surprised at the reaction she was having and how inappropriate it seems in relation to the cause of it. Can you relate?

Your hormones regulate moods and emotions. Oestrogen directly influences the production of serotonin, a mood regulating and feel-good hormone. So, it’s no wonder fluctuating hormones have such a profound impact on your moods and emotions. 

Some other moods and emotions you may experience during peri menopause include:

  • Aggression
  • Frustration
  • Extreme rage
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Depression 
  • Extreme mood swings (high or low)
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Irritability

For more insights, listen to our recent podcast Menopause Moods & Cognition. In this episode, we speak with Dr Kerri-Ann Hughes, Senior Lecturer from Massey’s School of Nursing. Dr Hughes is part of an international research team looking at nurses’ experience of Menopause.

In this insightful conversation we speak with Kerri-Ann about her international research and the desired outcomes to support nurses, why Menopause is not a mental health issue and we discuss the important theme behind this year’s World Menopause Day.

Strategies to Thrive in Menopause

Focussing on self-care and implementing positive lifestyle strategies to support your whole health will benefit you when you are experiencing peri menopause. 

Please remember, menopause is not a mental health condition – it is a hormonal issue that can impact your mental health. As women we must work together to support and nurture women’s whole health – this helps support the whole experience of changes, both physiological and physical.

Be kind to yourself

Don’t be hard on yourself. Breathe. Build self-awareness and self-regulation strategies which will provide you with a good basis for understanding triggers of anxiety and negative emotions. Breathing and mindfulness are powerful strategies for supporting emotional states. Meditation is also powerful click here to access Natalie’s meditation, A Tale of Two Minds.  

Eat

Your nutrition plays a big role in brain health. Aim for nutrient dense foods such as fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, fish, beans, nuts and olive oil. You may like to read Managing Your Weight in Menopause where Lisa shares what foods to include and what to avoid during peri menopause. 

Exercise

Regular physical activity and movement are proven to improve cognition and mood. Exercise will stimulate your body and mind. Try to create a regular routine with 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week to keep your mind and body healthy. 

Sleep well

If you are not sleeping well, it is likely that your cognition and mood will be impacted. Aim for a good night’s sleep. Avoid caffeine, large meals and any stimulants before bed. Incorporate a relaxation technique such as meditation, soothing music or a bath to help you prepare for rest.

If you are new to learning about peri menopause, we recommend reading What Are The First Signs of Menopause for a better understanding of this life transition. 

How We Can Support You

As passionate advocates for women’s health and supporting women through menopause, we offer a number of services to support women at our Wellness Hub in East Keilor. These include:

  • Menopause Health Coaching, click here to learn more.
  • Nutritional Food Coaching for Menopause, click here for more information.
  • Yoga classes, click here to book or read more.
  • Peri Menopause Power Podcast, click here to listen. 
  • Meditation practice, click here to book or learn more.
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