HOW TO GET HELP
If you’re feeling anxious, depressed or just not yourself and you suspect your hormones might be to blame, reach out to your GP for advice, says Dr Ginni Mansberg, author of The M Word: How to Thrive in Menopause.
“We definitely see an uptick in anxiety and depression in perimenopause,” she confirms. “I’ve seen many patients who’ve been very distressed and have felt a lot better upon going on HRT, which is really suggestive that their hormones played a big role.”
But, she stresses, mental health issues are complex and there could be many factors at play, so don’t be alarmed if your doctor doesn’t immediately suggest hormone therapy. “With mental health there’s very rarely a single bullet,” she explains.
“I’d say that anyone who did hormone therapy in isolation and said, ‘Right, don’t worry about seeing your psychologist, or about getting enough sleep, or about doing some exercise, or about sorting out your diet,’ is being a little bit simplistic in their management of it.”
The most important thing is to make sure you and your doc are on the same page. So, Dr Mansberg adds, book a longer appointment and don’t be afraid to ask your GP to explain their approach. If you still feel like they’re brushing you off or just don’t get it, “You’re totally within your rights to go somewhere else,” she says.
To find a doctor who’s both up to date on menopause research and empathetic to your experience, Dr Mansberg suggests using the ‘find a doctor’ function on the Australasian Menopause Society website (menopause.org.au). And if you can’t locate one in your area, consider a telehealth consultation. “I’ve got patients all over Australia now who call me,” Dr Mansberg says. “Often, it’s only for a couple of consultations to get things right, and then I can write a letter to their doctor, saying, ‘This is what we decided to do; this is why.’” If you’re struggling, you can also contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.