Menopause: Mindfulness may reduce symptoms

Woman meditating mindfulness


By Chiara Townley  


Fact checked by Carolyn Robertson



A recent study suggests that
mindfulness may be a promising tool to help menopausal women struggling with
irritability, anxiety, and depression.

Mindfulness may relieve
certain symptoms that women experience during menopause.


Several studies have found
that mindfulness can help with good psychological health.
The word
“mindfulness” has been trending in recent years, but what is it
exactly?
Simply put, it is the ability
of a person to focus on the present moment.
Unfortunately, our minds
wander too often in the past or the future — and we can become stressed.
When we are mindful, we
instead observe our thoughts without judgment; we become more aware of who we
are, and we learn how to appreciate the present.

Can mindfulness help during
menopause?


Menopause is the time in the
life of a woman when her menstrual periods stop, marking the end of the
reproductive years. Most women reach menopause between 45 and 55 years of age.
Women experiencing the
menopause may also have hot flashes, mood changes, anxiety, and depression.
According to the American
Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 6,000 women reach menopause
every day in the United States, and they estimate that by 2020, the number of
women who will be older than 55 years will be 46 million.
As life expectancy increases,
many women will spend up to half of their lives in the postmenopausal stage.
With these numbers in mind, it becomes increasingly important to find ways to
help menopausal women deal with this delicate phase.
A study by Mayo Clinic that
appears in Climacteric: The Journal of the International Menopause Society,
discovered that mindfulness might result in women experiencing fewer menopausal
symptoms.
“In this study, we found
that midlife women with higher mindfulness scores experienced fewer menopausal
symptoms,” said Dr. Richa Sood, Mayo Clinic general internist, women’s
health specialist, and the study’s lead author.

Mindfulness as a treatment

About 1,700 women between 40
and 65 years of age participated in the study; Mayo Clinic’s Women’s Health
Clinic in Rochester cared for them between January 1, 2015, and December 31,
2016.
Participants filled out
questionnaires that rated their symptoms, the level of stress they perceived
for themselves, and mindfulness.
The results showed that women
with higher mindfulness scores had fewer symptoms — but the impact of
mindfulness was not the same on all the symptoms. The researchers did not
associate the positive impact of mindfulness with lower hot flash and sweat
symptom scores, for example.
Dr. Sood believes that the reason
why mindfulness had no effect on these specific symptoms is that they have more
to do with individual personality. Mindfulness did have a positive effect on
symptom scores for irritability, depression, and anxiety in middle-aged
menopausal women.
“The goal during mindful
moments is not to empty the mind but to become an observer of the mind’s
activity while being kind to oneself. The second step is to create a pause.
Take a deep breath and observe one’s own space, thoughts, and emotions nonjudgmentally.
The resulting calm helps lower stress,” Dr. Sood explains.
In conclusion, the research
team says that its findings suggest that mindfulness could become a useful tool
to help women experiencing the menopause who struggle with anxiety and
depression.
Dr. Sood profers that the area
of research needs more studies to confirm the effectiveness of this method.
However, because we know that mindfulness is beneficial to psychological
health, doctors could start to discuss using mindfulness as a potential treatment
option for menopausal women.





SOURCE: MEDICAL NEWS TODAY
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.