Women’s Health Info
Better Psychological Well-Being Through Menopause
Overview: psychological well-being during & after menopause
- The menopause transition can be a transformative phase in a woman’s life that can impact psychological well-being and health-related quality of life (QoL).
- The long-term SWAN study of women’s health uses various measures and indicators to assess quality of life and psychological health including social support, financial stress, depression, lifestyle behaviors, life satisfaction, and anxiety.
- Research found several factors, including greater resilience, physical activity, less sleep disturbance, and better physical functioning, that are associated with greater psychological well-being during and after the menopause transition.
- Fortunately, this means that boosting positive aspects of quality of life can have a noteworthy impact on a woman’s well-being.
Enhancing menopausal women’s well-being & quality of life
The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) focuses on these three key areas related to women’s well-being during midlife and menopause.
- Psychological well-being: This investigates the positive aspects of a woman’s life such as life satisfaction and purpose in life. Understanding and enhancing psychological well-being during and after menopause can improve overall quality of life for women.
- Depression, mental health and anxiety: Conversely, SWAN examines the prevalence and contributing factors that impact of these negative aspects of well-being during midlife and menopause.
- Health-related quality of life: This assesses how health impacts a woman’s physical, social, and mental well-being..
By examining these factors, SWAN’s research sheds light on the challenges women face as they age while providing actionable insights for interventions.
SWAN is a long-term, multi- racial and ethnic, and multicenter research project that aims to understand the physical, biological, and psychosocial changes that occur in women during the menopause transition. Researchers are examining various aspects, including hormone levels, sleep patterns, cardiovascular health, bone density, and psychological well-being. By studying a diverse population of women over time, SWAN aims to provide comprehensive insights into the menopause transition and its impact on women's health.
Midlife’s effects on the psychological well-being of older women
Research has found that several factors during midlife are linked to better psychological well-being (PWB) in older women. These factors include:
- Less financial strain.
- Increased physical activity.
- Not smoking
- Better physical functioning.
- Fewer sleep problems.
- Positive attitudes toward menopause and aging.
- Greater resilience.
Early childhood’s quality of life lasting impact on older women
Amid SWAN’s exploration of midlife well-being, recent findings shed light on how early-life experiences are related to women’s quality of life (HRQoL) during menopause. Research underscores that childhood events, such as abuse, neglect, or trauma, can significantly influence later well-being and health outcomes. Specifically, recent research suggests a compelling link between child maltreatment (CM) and lower mental and physical well-being scores. Furthermore, investigations into childhood abuse and neglect reveal a connection to heightened inflammation in midlife women, possibly linked to obesity.
These discoveries emphasize the importance early-life experiences play in robust well-being during midlife. Mental health professionals, healthcare providers, and support networks should consider an individual’s history and provide tailored strategies to navigate the unique challenges of this phase.
Begin menopause self-care now for better quality of life
Research has shown that there is no better time than before entering menopause for women to make positive changes for their well-being, though healthy changes during menopause can also help. Boosting healthy habits or stopping unhealthy ones – before or during menopause – can have an impact on aging and women’s health.
- Prioritize physical activity: Incorporating any exercise into a woman’s routine has been linked to enhanced physical functioning, increased energy levels, improved mood and reduced risk of chronic diseases.
- Quit smoking: For women who smoke, quitting even late in life can have a transformative impact on their health and well-being.
- Cultivate healthy relationships: Nurturing positive and supportive relationships is vital for well-being. Research demonstrates that having a strong social support network positively affects various aspects of life satisfaction and psychological health.
- Practice self-care: Carving out time for self-care activities is essential. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation, reduce stress and bring joy can significantly enhance mood and one’s perception of life.
- Manage stress: Techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, and engaging in hobbies or activities that an individual finds calming can help reduce stress levels and promote well-being.
- Adopt a balanced diet: Women tend to gain weight during midlife, so eating a healthy diet can help maintain weight and physical well-being.
- Get sufficient sleep: Prioritize quality sleep as it plays a critical role in well-being. Aim for the recommended amount of sleep each night to ensure optimal cognitive functioning, mood regulation and physical restoration.
Latest quality-of-life and psychological well-being news
Science Magazine featured a SWAN JAMA Network Open article on “Weathering and Selection Bias” by SWAN Investigator Dr. Alexis Reeves
SWAN Investigator Dr. Alexis Reeves shows that “weathering” due to racist experiences can lead women of color to experience some medical conditions earlier than their white counterparts.
Our ongoing research into and beyond the menopause transition
The SWAN study has made significant contributions to our understanding of the menopause transition and beyond, but there is still ongoing research to deepen our understanding of this time in women’s lives. Researchers continue to explore the complex interplay between physical function, hormonal changes, sleep patterns, lifestyle behaviors, psychosocial functioning, and cognitive health.
Nancy E. Avis, PhD, Professor, Wake Forest University
Rachel Hess, MD, AVP of Research at University of Utah Health
Nanette Santoro, MD, Professor, University of Colorado Denver