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Aging: Menopause Interventions for "The Change"
Menopause continuing education MFT CEUs

Section 5
Track #5 - Two Effective Techniques to Minimize Emotional Symptoms

CEU Question 5 | CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Geriatric & Aging
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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On the last track, we discussed three concepts related to menopausal stress.  These three menopausal stress concepts include:  adrenal exhaustion; sleep-deprived stress; and managing stress through diet and nutrients.

On this track, we will examine three emotional symptoms found in menopausal clients.  These three emotional symptoms include:  anger; anxiety; and mood swings.

3 Emotional Symptoms

Share on Facebook #1 Anger
The first emotional symptom resulting from menopause is anger.  Anger can come in many forms during many pause such as feelings of annoyance, frustration, or irritability.  The source of anger, however, is less definable.  Clients who were once easily susceptible to PMS mood swings find themselves much more vulnerable to the anger roller coaster of menopause.  However, even those who did not experience PMS report feelings of increased irritability.  This may arise from lack of sleep or the sudden shift in feelings of fatigue. 

To go even further, some clients experience anger as a coping strategy for aging.  These clients may feel depressed that they are no longer young or cannot have a child.  In general, I treat my clients in accordance with their source of anger.  To determine this, I ask clients to consider keeping an "Anger Log" throughout the day. 

Share on Facebook Technique:  Anger Log
Rita, age 50, was noticing that she had begun to snap more at her children and at the people at work.  She stated, "I don't know where it comes from.  Things don't go my way, and I just boil over."   I suggested Rits keep an "Anger Log" in which she document the time of day she lost her temper, her energy level, who she lost her temper with, and the direct cause.  After a couple weeks, I asked Rita if she had noticed any patterns. 

She stated, "Every time I lost it, I rated my energy level as dangerously low.  I guess I'm just a two-year old who needs a nap."  From the patterns in her log, we found that Rita was also suffering from fatigue which triggered her anger.  Think of your Rita.  Is her anger a result of lack of sleep?  Frustration at the aging process?

Share on Facebook #2 Anxiety
The second emotional symptom resulting from menopause is anxiety.  Just as anger resulted from different sources, so too does anxiety.  Many times, anxiety in menopausal clients can arise from stress, as we discussed in track 4.  Other times, like anger, anxiety can result from lack of sleep or underlying fears of aging.  However, in some circumstances, there is no explanation for anxiety, which even further frightens the client.  When no direct source of anxiety can be found, I suggest to the client to think of as many relaxing activities as possible to take part in during her spare time.

Julie, age 53, was experiencing paranoia and severe anxiety during her day.  Julie stated, "I can't seem to concentrate.  My mind jumps because I always feel like I need to do something I haven't done already.  I'm actually sleeping through the night, and I can't think of anything specifically worrisome, it just comes to me." 

I asked Julie try making a relaxation visualization for herself.  I asked her to think of the perfect vacation spot and to envision herself in that vacation spot for five minutes everyday.  In this exercise, I was attempting to guide Rita to make a moment of perfect calm at least once during the day in order to calm down her stress levels and return them back to normal.  Think of your Julie.  How would you address her unexplainable anxiety?

Share on Facebook #3 Mood Swings
In addition to anger and anxiety, the third emotional symptom is mood swings.  Much like PMS, these mood swings are unpredictable and difficult to manage.  At one minute, the client may be motivated, happy, and confident.  The next, she may be completely exhausted and depressed.  These mood swings come as a result of a change in hormone levels.  Many clients will become more and more frustrated by the instability of their moods and subsequently become more irritable as a result.  I have found the best treatment for mood swings is a heightened awareness that the sudden shift is occurring and needs to be controlled.

Share on Facebook Technique:  Mood Swing Self-Talk
Jeanie, age 48, experienced severe mood swings several times throughout the day.  Jeanie stated, "I can't have a happy mood the whole day.  I'll wake up feeling fine, and the next moment I just want to sink into the floor."  To help Jeanie progress through her day without becoming a victim to her mood swings, I suggested she try the "Mood Swing Self-Talk" exercise.  I stated to Jeanie, "When you go home, try and create a list of phrases to tell yourself every time you feel your mood shift.  This can also help to personify your feeling by giving them a name and treating them like a petulant child." 

Mood Swing Self-Talk Phrases
The next week, Jeanie returned with the following phrases:
            -- 1. Stop your lollygagging!
            -- 2. Just keep that up and you'll see what happens!
            -- 3. I know you're down now, but just wait a while.
In addition to these phrases, Jeanie had given a name to her mood swings.  She stated, "I decided to call them Jeffrey, because I used to baby sit a boy named Jeffrey and he was an absolute terror."  By personifying her mood swings, Jeanie can begin to step outside of herself and not let her moods completely control her life.

On this track, we discussed three emotional symptoms found in menopausal clients.  These three emotional symptoms include:  anger; anxiety; and mood swings.

On the next track, we will examine three concepts of memory loss in menopausal clients.  These three concepts menopausal memory loss include:  poor verbal memory; brain fog; and change in thinking styles.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 5
What are three emotional symptoms found in menopausal clients? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Answer Booklet.

 
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