A therapist's guide to safeguarding women's mental health

The transition into menopause is a significant phase in a woman's life, marked not only by physical changes but profound mental and emotional shifts as well. As a therapist specialising in women's health, I have observed and addressed the diverse mental health implications of menopause. The tragic story of Linda, who succumbed to mental health struggles exacerbated by menopause, underscores the urgent need for awareness and support during this critical period.


In a poignant illustration of the hidden mental health struggles associated with menopause, the story of 56-year-old Linda reveals a heartrending reality. Last April, amid the exacerbating pressures of the Covid pandemic, Linda tragically took her own life, succumbing to intensifying anxiety that was linked to her menopausal phase. Her husband, David from West Yorkshire, expressed his deep regret and surprise, acknowledging his lack of awareness about the severe psychological impacts of menopause. He had not realised that menopause could lead to such extreme mental distress, including suicidal thoughts.

BBC's Look North programme feature aired after Linda’s death. This segment, which focused on the mental health challenges during menopause, including the risk of suicide, was a moment of stark realisation for him. He admitted his previous understanding of menopause was limited to its physical symptoms, like hot flushes and mood swings and was unaware of the severe psychological effects it could have. Linda’s story is a powerful testament to the need for greater awareness and understanding of the mental health aspects of menopause.

Understanding the mental health implications of menopause

Menopause, often simplified as a time of physical change, is a complex experience that can profoundly impact mental health. The decline in oestrogen and other hormonal fluctuations can trigger a range of psychological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, mood swings and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts. Linda's story, as shared by her husband David, is a heart-wrenching reminder of these often-overlooked mental health challenges.

Recognising the signs

It's crucial to recognise the signs of mental health struggles during menopause. Common indicators include

Increased anxiety or panic attacks: An uncharacteristic rise in anxiety levels or the onset of panic attacks can be linked to hormonal changes.

Depressive symptoms: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness or a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities should be taken seriously.

Mood swings: Sudden and intense changes in mood can be more than just "being moody" and warrant attention.

Cognitive changes: Difficulty in concentration or memory lapses can also be a part of this transition.

Sleep disturbances: Insomnia or changes in sleep patterns can exacerbate mental health issues.

The role of therapy in supporting menopausal women

Therapy plays a pivotal role in navigating the menopausal transition. As a therapist, I advocate for a multi-faceted approach:

Educational support: Providing information about menopause helps in normalising the experience and reducing stigma.

Emotional processing: Therapy offers a safe space for women to process their emotions and cope with changes.

Cognitive-behavioural techniques: These can be effective in managing mood swings, anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Family involvement: Educating family members, aids in creating a supportive environment.

Practical steps for safeguarding mental health

Practical strategies are vital in managing menopausal symptoms:

Lifestyle modifications: Regular exercise, a balanced diet and sufficient sleep can significantly improve mental well-being.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques: Practices like meditation, yoga or deep breathing can help manage stress and anxiety.

Social support: Building a strong support network, including friends, family or support groups is essential.

Medical consultation: Consulting healthcare providers for potential hormonal or alternative therapies.

Menopause is a natural, yet often challenging, phase in a woman's life. Understanding its impact on mental health is crucial. As therapists, we must advocate for greater awareness and provide the necessary support to navigate these changes. Stories like Linda's, while heartbreaking, serve as powerful catalysts for change, emphasising the need for heightened attention and care during this pivotal transition.

By recognising the signs, offering effective therapeutic interventions, and implementing practical self-care strategies, we can safeguard the mental health of women journeying through menopause, ensuring they do not face this path alone.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Guildford GU5 & GU2
Guildford GU5 & GU2

Donna Morgan is a highly experienced Humanistic Mental Health Therapist with 26 years of practice. Her passion for helping individuals with their mental health has driven her to develop a compassionate and holistic approach to therapy. Donna firmly believes in treating each client as a unique individual and providing them with personalised support.

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