Attitudes towards menopause in a group of women followed in a public service for menopause counseling
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This preliminary study addressed some specific attitudes towards menopause, and behavioral styles in menopausal women.
The study was conducted during the period January–May 1998 at the Menopausal Service of the Magenta Hospital (Milano) in 88 women, representing almost one half of the patients followed during that period; 43 women were treated with HRT. Some traits characterizing women’s life during menopause were examined, such as presence of disturbing physical symptoms, changes in interests and discovery of new interests, and feelings of loss and uselessness. We used different psychological tests in order to evaluate anxiety and depression, in particular, the STAI (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory), the SDS (Self-rating Depression Scale), and 16 cartoon-like images representing stereotypes of menopause.
The answers of our subjects showed high individual variation, with negative symptoms (e.g., hot flashes, memory loss) frequently associated with positive experiences (e.g., new hobbies, new life-styles). However, even the most frequent negative symptom (memory loss) was reported only by 70%. The experience of a change represented by menopause was described both in terms of objective change (e.g., weight increase, hot flashes, memory loss), and of subjective change (e.g., character, feeling of not being attractive, new life-styles). Treatment with HRT seems to reduce the onset of hot flashes considerably. The occurrence of anxious-depressive states was comparable to that observed in other studies; it was not associated with HRT, but rather to losses (loss of desire, memory loss, insomnia).
In conclusion, menopause represents a transitional moment in which physical and psychological changes are generally integrated by the persons experiencing them. In order to preserve a good quality of life in menopause, it seems relevant to check memory loss and stabilize the mood in persons who are most “at risk” of psychological disease.
Key wordsDepression hormone replacement therapy (HRT) menopause psychological attitudes
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