Mental health in perimenopause

We’re half way through January and today, Monday 16th Jan officially marks the most depressing day of the year!

Depression, anxiety and low mood can be a common feature of perimenopause (regardless of the time of year!). It’s not unusual for women to experience any or all of the feelings listed below.

Many women who may not have experienced symptoms such as anxiety and depression previously, find they creep up on them during perimenopause. Equally, women with a history of mental health problems may find they worsen at this stage in their lives.

Diet has a role to play

Obviously you should always seek appropriate medical help for depression, but diet and lifestyle can also support mental health. A study known as the SMILES trial conducted in Australia, compared 2 groups of people suffering with depression. They were assigned to a group where they either adopted a modified Mediterranean Diet or received social support, but no dietary change (control group) over the course of 3 months.

At the end of the study, those in the diet group experienced a much greater reduction in their depressive symptoms than those in the control group. In fact, a third of those in the dietary support group met criteria for remission of major depression, compared to 8 percent of those in the social support group

Diet & lifestyle to support mental health

Here are a few things to think about/change to support your mental health in perimenopause:

  • Prioritise sleep and rest. That doesn’t mean you’re lazy and resting is not a waste of time!
  • Support your circadian rhythm by getting outside in the daylight in the morning, lowering lights and avoiding bright screens in an evening and eating at regular times.
  • Get your vitamin D levels checked. Insufficient vitamin D is correlated with depression and PMS
  • Eat mood-boosting foods
  • Make time for things you love
  • Try to take on less stress
  • Eat for stable blood sugar – balanced meals including protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates

You can read more about mood boosting foods at here and download a selection of recipes for mood-boosting lunches here

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