Even though perimenopause is a natural part of the lifespan for an individual with a uterus, no two people experience the symptoms quite the same. However, many people find that this transition can be emotionally and physically difficult. Therapy can provide immense support and guidance during both perimenopause and menopause. If you’re struggling with this change, it may be time to consider reaching out to a therapist.
Common Symptoms of Perimenopause
On average, perimenopause lasts about four years, and it typically starts in your mid-40s (although it can begin in your 30’s). Menopause occurs when you reach 12 months without having a period. Although menopause is typically spoken about in heteronormative language, the reality is that people of all ages and genders can be impacted by this process. Trans and non-binary individuals experience perimenopause, and it’s crucial to be inclusive in our conversations and awareness. Most of the hormonal fluctuations occurring in perimenopause are due to decreasing estrogen levels. At first, your body will usually start to have irregular menstrual cycles. The frequency and intensity of the bleeding may also change. At the same time, you may also experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex, and sleep problems. Perimenopause is also associated with emotional changes. Some individuals notice an increase in symptoms of ADHD, depression and anxiety. Others experience mood changes that closely resemble PMS or feel even more intense than PMS. It’s also common for individuals in perimenopause to feel more tearful, irritable, or distracted. Some additional perimenopause symptoms include:
- Changes in sexual function (lower sex drive, difficulty with orgasim)
- Bone loss
- Changes in cholesterol levels or blood pressure
- Breast soreness
- Itchiness or tingling sensations
- Muscle tension and joint pain
- Thinning hair
- Brain Fog
- Feeling overwhelmed easily
How Therapy Can Help During Perimenopause
Perimenopause can be challenging, especially if you have a history of mental health issues. You may find that you feel especially vulnerable or tender. At the same time, you might worry that you’re exaggerating or being “too difficult.” It is so important that you feel supported during all stages of life. Unfortunately, many people start feeling more and more invisible as they get older. Therapy offers a supportive space where you can be truly seen and helped.
Improve Your Mental Health
Research shows that the risk of depression can increase during the transition to menopause. It can also increase just after menopause. Depression is more than just sadness- it’s a persistent state of feeling apathetic, irritable, and disconnected from yourself and others. In addition, many feel anxious during perimenopause. Your body and mood may be changing dramatically, and it can be a time when you feel out of control. This can be scary, and it can increase feelings of panic or dread. Therapy can help you better understand your mental health symptoms and learn new ways to cope with your distress. My goal is to help you compassionately accept your feelings while gently managing them if they feel overwhelming.
Strengthen Your Self-Esteem
Our culture isn’t good about holding space around the aging process which is why so many people often fear aging. In addition, perimenopause may coincide with many other important life transitions, such as raising children, taking care of older parents, getting married or divorced, or a significant career or health change. This stress can wreak havoc on someone’s self-esteem. And if you’ve never really felt positively about yourself in the past, perimenopause may magnify some of that negative self-talk. In therapy, we can explore the barriers impacting your self-esteem. We will also discuss ways you can build a healthier and kinder relationship with yourself.
Practice More Stress Management
Stress can amplify perimenopause, and perimenopause can amplify stress. If you’re busy in life (as many people are), you probably move through your days feeling overworked, tired, and pressed for time. Unfortunately, this leaves people often feeling dysregulated and disconnected from themselves. You may feel like you’re all-or-nothing with how you react, and you might not love how you typically cope with stress. Therapy can help you better understand your stress triggers. Together, we’ll review proactive ways you can respond to your stress and practice better self-care.
Process Your Feelings and Gain Deeper Introspection
Many people feel they need to deny, suppress, or intellectualize their feelings. They don’t want to bother others or come across as ‘needy’ or overly ‘sensitive.’ But it’s so important to embrace your feelings– they speak a powerful truth about who you are and what you value. Therapy can offer such a unique environment for truly being able to settle into your authentic self. If you’re struggling with your identity or want to learn more about your behavioral patterns, therapy may provide the insight you need. You may have old traumas that you want to process, relationship issues you want to fix, or a space to better understand the intersection between who you are in the context of the larger culture. Whatever arises, working with a therapist you connect with can be a safe place to explore these deeper topics.
Therapy for Perimenopause in Seattle and Washington State
This is an important time in your life, even if it feels frustrating, confusing, and discouraging. Regardless of what you’re going through, you are not alone in your struggles. Having support can be invaluable as you move through this process. I specialize in helping adults successfully navigate life transitions at all phases of life. I also specialize in working with the LGBTQIA2+ community. I offer online therapy services in Seattle, Washington and throughout Washington State, and I would be honored to learn your needs and hear your story. I welcome you to contact me today to schedule a consultation.