Recent research reveals the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy on the symptoms of menopause. It showed that CBT helps to reduce hot flashes, depression, and sleep disorders in menopausal women. The study was published in the journal Menopause.
Menopause is the end of menstrual cycles in women and they are no longer able to conceive naturally during or after this process. It usually occurs when a woman is in her late 40s to early 50s. The possible symptoms of the condition include hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disorders, and depression.
The most common treatments for these symptoms include hormone therapy or estrogen therapy. In addition, hormone therapy helps to reduce women’s post-menopause risks of bone loss and fractures. However, it may cause bloating, breast tenderness, nausea, and mood changes as side effects. Note these risks of hormone therapy vary depending on age.
If the therapy starts before the age of 60 or within 10 years of menopause, estrogen may lower the risk of heart disease. Whereas, if the therapy begins after more than 10 or 20 years of menopause, it may add to the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Other treatment options include,
- Vaginal estrogen to reduce vaginal dryness
- Low-dose antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to alleviate hot flashes
- Medications to prevent bone loss and fractures
How is CBT effective?
Different treatments bring varied side effects thus, researchers have been looking for alternative therapies to treat the symptoms of menopause. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) had already been studied to treat menopause symptoms. Interestingly, it was found effective in reducing hot flashes and night sweats.
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that works by modifying negative thought patterns and behaviors. It encourages people to become aware of their negative thinking, eliminate them, and respond to emergent situations effectively. CBT reportedly shows positive results in the treatment of several mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Talking with respect to menopause, there are several studies reporting positive results, but they mainly focus on hot flashes.
This new study included 71 women for the analysis. The research team found that cognitive therapy helps to manage other symptoms of menopause, such as depression, sleep disorders, and sexual concerns. Thus, CBT is asserted beneficial as it reduces hot flashes and improves sleeping patterns, depression, and sexual function. However, this therapy didn’t show the same level of improvement in menopause-related anxiety. As per the researchers, these improvements lasted for at least 3 months after the treatment.
This study serves as a crucial step in the search for an effective alternative to treat menopause-related symptoms although it involved only a small number of participants.
Health care providers usually prescribe hormone therapy when people discuss the best option to treat menopause symptoms. However, the controversial side effects of the treatment have prompted more and more women to seek alternative therapies.
This small study is in line with other studies showing the benefits of CBT in improving the symptoms of menopause. Researchers encourage future studies that compare CBT with other treatments and therapies. These studies are expected to allow the researchers to better understand the effects of CBT.