Got The Blues? Here’s Some Sage Advice For Happiness

Happy woman talking on the phone

Happiness. Stop and think about it for a moment. Are you happy?

It seems like a fairly inane question, doesn’t it?

But have you thought about it lately?

The reason I bring it up is that the lowering of estrogen levels during the meno years doesn’t just have an impact on us physically it can also have quite a significant effect on our moods and/or emotions, and therefore our happiness.

This is the reason why you’ll often hear anxiety, depression or irritability listed as common signs of perimenopause (the lead up to menopause) and menopause.

It’s Not Unusual

Some women are lucky enough to escape (a bit like PMS) but others are more emotionally sensitive to hormonal changes (raising my hand here 😀). Our brains need estrogen to function well so if our levels are fluctuating or they’re on the decline it can affect our mood and mental health.

But fear not, if this is you y0u’re quite normal. It’s not unusual to go through bouts of depression or ‘the blues’ during the meno years because as well as dealing with fluctuating hormones, we’re often dealing with big life-events like ageing parents, the thought of empty nests, retirement, divorce, or often-times the death of beloved family members.

It's not unusual to go through a bout of the 'blues' in midlife. Click To Tweet

As Drs Lily Stojanovska, Marcia Jones PhD and Teresa Eichenwald MD point out in the book Menopause for Dummies it’s important to make a distinction between these signs and psychological disorders of the same name. In reality, they’re different beasts.

“The mood and emotional changes that you experience because of hormonal changes shouldn’t interfere with your daily life – cause damage to friendships or relationships with colleagues at work, make it impossible to manage your normal schedule of activities, or prompt you to use alcohol or drugs to help you feel better,” they say. “If your signs do provoke these changes, talk to your doctor. [And bear in mind] no matter what your exact situation is, you have plenty of good reasons to be at a heightened emotional stage during midlife. It’s not just the hormone thing; it’s the everyday world you live in during your forties and fifties.”

Their other tips include getting your head to work positively by:

Dealing with changes, emotions and stress in a positive way. For example, write down your feelings on paper; it makes them a little easier to deal with.

Be positive; try to rid yourself of negative thoughts. For example, share a smile with a stranger. For those ill-timed episodes, adopt a mantra such as: ‘OK, the car has a flat by it’s not going to ruin my day.’

Try to change your self-definition and see life in a new light. Every time you look in the mirror, affirm something yourself such as: ‘I like the colour of my greying hair, and the wrinkles on my face.’

See the big picture. For example, if you’re going through some rough patches, and the whole situation seems horrible, try to imagine it a year from now or even 10 years from now. See, those problems aren’t as big as you thought!

Tackle these emotions before you move on to deal with other aspects of change. For example, talk to a friend – talking is great therapy(!) – or choose a self-help book.

Talk to your doctor or professional counsellor if you need a professional person to confide in.

Menopause for Dummies $30.75

Main image by Jon Ly courtesy of Unplash

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This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.


Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.