Talking therapy could effectively treat menopause symptoms such as low mood and anxiety, research suggests. 

The menopause is when women’s periods stop, their oestrogen levels drop and they’re no longer able to get pregnant naturally. The NHS says that menopause usually occurs between 45 and (in the UK the average age is 51). But symptoms can begin earlier as your body starts to make the transition - known as the perimenopause - and carry on after. It’s a natural part of aging but can also be brought on by some medical treatments such as surgery to remove the ovaries or womb, or chemotherapy or radiotherapy to treat cancer.

Menopause affects every woman differently. Some women have no problems or just brief effects, but for others symptoms can last several years and even have an impact on day-to-day activities.  Common symptoms can include hot flushes, night sweats, reduced sex drive, anxiety and depression. 

Statistically significant improvements through talking therapies

The University College London (UCL) research published in February in the Journal of Affective Disorders, examined 30 studies involving 3,500 women in 14 countries, including the UK, the US and Australia. UCL researchers say, "empowering women" to develop positive thinking would probably have benefits beyond those of HRT.  Some women showed, "statistically significant improvements" in anxiety and depression following talking therapies, compared with no or alternative treatments.

Talking therapies improved sleep, memory, concentration.  And the talking therapies could also improve quality of life and help women whose symptoms had made them less confident cope with other common challenges.

Counselling and psychotherapy to support menopause

Whilst symptoms of menopause can be likened to mental health issues, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) member and psychotherapist Emma Cullinan says there’s a danger of attributing all mental health issues in women over 40 to the menopause. She says that counselling allows women a safe space to explore a range of issues affecting their mental health, of which the menopause may be one.  Emma believes that the menopause is a very personal journey for each woman and therapy needs to reflect this.

Melissa Cliffe, a UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) psychotherapist also highlights the unique journey for each woman. She believes menopause has common symptoms but the combination of symptoms and the degree to which they are felt are different for each woman. 

“Psychotherapy can offer a supportive space to work through this transition. It can be turbulent, painful and confusing and a therapist can be alongside you, listening and facilitating the process, and helping to grapple with the deeper questions that emerge.” - Melissa Cliffe, a UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) psychotherapist


If you’re going through a difficult time for any reason, our counsellors are trained to help you explore your feelings and experiences in a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment. 

HDS also works with organisations, large and small, to offer counselling and psychotherapy as part of their Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP).  Our counsellors and therapists have broad experience of working with employees in the public, private and third sectors across Scotland. 

HDS can offer face-to-face, online or telephone counselling.

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