Sandy Rea is a psychologist with over 30 years of experience. Her practice is multi-disciplinary, dealing with everyday issues. Holding multiple advanced degrees, Sandy is currently a PhD candidate at James Cook University. Further, Sandy regularly offers commentary on Channel 9 Today, Weekend Today, Today Extra, and 3AW. For 10 years, she was a weekly columnist at Herald Sun, providing her insights into mental health.
In this session, Sandy Rea unpacks how to navigate peri at home and at work.
Why do we get so moody in perimenopause?
By now, you're probably aware that perimenopause's sudden decrease of key reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone cause a bunch of irritating symptoms.
And their effect on the mind is no different as Sandy Rea explains.
"The decrease of estrogen [during peri] impacts on the neurotransmitters that affect our sense of irritability, our calmness, for want of a better word, our mental wellbeing," Sandy says.
"[As well], we no doubt we all know that the three pillars of good mental health are good sleep, good diet and exercise. These are the three things that we routinely talk about.
"Now with peri, we know what is the one thing that women constantly talk about in peri and that is sleep disturbance.
"So if you are having a sleep disturbance night after night after night compounded with low mood disorders when you wake up you are going to be very irritable."
That being said, Sandy recommends targeting a good night's sleep as a first resort in combating peri irritability.
Do you need bamboo sheets? Do you need to be cooled down? Do you need to, you know, perhaps introducing a supplement so that you can sleep better? Because the one thing that drives mood is sleep so the first thing I would say for women who are enduring peri would be to look at your sleep."
Why are romantic relationships so different in perimenopause?
It turns out there's a biological partner you might feel so repulsed by your partner. And it comes down to the love hormone; Oxytocin.
"[During perimenopause] we have a decrease in oxytocin. What that means is the love hormone; that, 'oh, I feel really good and connected to my partner' receptor is decreased.
"What the research is suggesting is that you now see your partner as the devil incarnate. That this is the ugliest person, I really don't want to be with them.
"At the very beginning of COVID I was saying, don't make decisions about your relationship during COVID it's not the right time, there's too many variables. I would say that same thing if you're in a relationship [while in peri]."
If you are constantly feeling irritable, moody, irrational and angry, Sandy Rea says it is worthwhile to seek out professional help with a psychologist.
- Depression during the perimenopause: A meta-analysis (M. de Kruif, A.T. Spijker, M.L. Molendijk)
- Perimenopausal Depression (Barbara L. Parry MD)
- The M Word by Dr Ginni Mansberg
Information discussed in The Very Peri Summit is for education purposes only and is not intended to provide professional medical advice. Readers should seek their own medical advice, specific to their circumstances, from their treating doctor or health care professional.
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