Higher risk of common mental disorders in women during menopausal: experts

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KARACHI: In the rural district of Sindh the percentages for somatic, psychological and urogenital symptoms were significantly high in women at postmenopausal status as compared to premenopausal women”, said Prof. Dr Imran Bashir Chaudhry, Chairman Department of Psychiatry, Dr Ziauddin Hospital in a recent awareness session.

He was addressing the audience in an interactive public awareness session themed “Menopause and its Significant Impact on Physical and Mental Health” to create awareness about Menopause at Ziauddin University in collaboration with Pakistan Menopause Society.

According to the most recent study in Pakistan, 76.7% of women in menopause reported depression, 71.8% reported anxiety and 75.4% reported irritability. The study from Lahore reported agitation (50.8%) and depression (38.5%) as common symptoms in menopause.

Prof. Dr Imran Bashir Chaudhry focused on the Menopause and its impact on women’s mental health including Menopause and Anxiety, Quality of Life of Menopausal Women with Depression, Schizophernia, Bipolar Disorder, and Lifestyle Modifications.

While talking about Menopause and Mental Health, he said “there is a higher risk of common mental disorders (CMDs) such as stress, anxiety, and depression among women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms. Difficulties in maintaining sleep, cognition and mood quality, among others, overlap the psychosocial experiences of maturity during menopause, requiring an absolute balance so that life can continue its course.”

Prof. Dr. Rubina Hussain, Chairperson, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Ziauddin University while stressing the need for Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment said “diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle are keys to prevent and manage the complicated health issues in women. Hence it is essential to start prevention at childhood by adding at least 2 glasses of milk and 8-10 glasses of water per day to your diet. For adults nourishment with high calcium and proteins, including an increased amount of Vitamin D, more physical activities, avoid smoking and even secondhand smoking. Add a well-balanced diet full of dairy, protein, fruits, and vegetables to your healthy diet.”

Dr. Sumbul Sohail, Consultant, Gynecologist, Dr Ziauddin Hospital, while speaking about obesity said “life expectancy of women in Pakistan is 67.4. This growing life expectancy has altered the pattern of women’s health risk later in life. Hence it is important to give serious consideration for maintaining their well-being and long term health.”

According to the Framingham Nutrition Study, it is the increase in the calories that one consumes those results in an increase in fat. Physical activity, implementation of healthy behaviour, weight reduction means reduction in caloric intake, i.e. 1500 calories including 60% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 10% proteins, regular exercise or walk for 2.5 hours will reduce the fat mass and fat-free mass is maintained bone mass.

“30 minutes of vigorous exercise, 3-5 times a week should be an integral part of an individual’s life because if we avoid exercise we wouldn’t be able to overcome our mental problems. With the help of physical activities we can reduce mental illness”, said Sumaira Imran Farooqui, Associate Professor, Principal, Ziauddin College of Physical Therapy, Ziauddin University.