Mindfulness, a potential treatment option for menopausal women

That irritability, anxiety, and mood swings experienced because of menopause can be managed by practicing mindfulness. A study by Mayo Clinic found that being mindful may be especially helpful for reducing menopausal symptoms and overall stress.

The research was published in Climacteric: The Journal of the International Menopause Society.

“In this study, we found that midlife women with higher mindfulness scores experienced fewer menopausal symptoms,” says Mayo Clinic general internist and women’s health specialist Richa Sood, M.D., the study’s lead author. “These findings suggest that mindfulness may be a promising tool to help women reduce menopausal symptoms and overall stress.”

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.

Acceptance is a component of mindfulness, which means that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without passing judgment on them. For example, we refrain from thinking that there is a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel at any given time. By engaging in mindfulness exercises, we train our minds to focus on the present moment rather than the past or the future.

Being mindful includes paying attention to the here and now while objectively observing thoughts and feelings. According to earlier studies, mindfulness training can lower stress and enhance quality of life.

What is Menopause? What are the symptoms of Menopause?

When you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period, you’ve reached menopause. Perimenopause, as it is known, usually starts in the middle of a woman’s forties. Many women or those who were assigned as female at birth (AFAB) begin to transition to menopause at this time. They might encounter symptoms like hot flashes, nocturnal sweats, dry vagina, and mood swings, or they might notice abnormalities in their menstrual cycles.

In the United States, 6,000 women are thought to enter menopause per day. beyond 46 million women will be beyond the age of 55 by the year 2020.

Between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2016, 1,744 Rochester-based Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Clinic patients between the ages of 40 and 65 participated in the study. Participants answered questions on their perceived levels of stress, menopausal symptoms, and mindfulness. According to research, menopausal symptoms were less common in women who scored higher on mindfulness. Greater mindfulness and fewer menopausal symptoms are associated with higher perceived stress levels in women.

Higher mindfulness correlated with lower irritability, depression, and anxiety

One unexpected finding of the study, according to Dr. Sood, is that higher mindfulness scores were not linked to decreased hot flashes and night sweats symptom levels. One explanation for this is that, rather than the symptoms themselves, the degree of distress caused by night sweats and hot flashes may be more influenced by a person’s personality. Dr. Sood described the study’s relationship between higher mindfulness scores and lower symptom ratings for irritability, depression, and anxiety in middle-aged menopausal women as an intriguing finding.

“While more studies need to be done, doctors can consider discussing mindfulness as a potential treatment option for menopausal women,” Dr. Sood says.

Fortunately, mindfulness is a skill that can be learned.

“Essentially, the first step in being mindful is to become aware that our minds are on autopilot most of the time,” Dr. Sood says. “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.”

Co-authors of the study are Carol Kuhle, D.O.; Ekta Kapoor, M.B.B.S.; Jacqueline Thielen, M.D.; Karla Frohmader Hilsaca, Ph.D.; Kristin Mara; and Stephanie Faubion, M.D. — all from Mayo Clinic.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Mayo Clinic. Original written by Heather Carlson Kehren. Note: Content may be edited for style and length. https://my.clevelandclinic.org, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu

Page citation:

Mayo Clinic. “Mindfulness may ease menopausal symptoms.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190117090449.htm>.

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