Cognitive behavior therapy may effectively manage multiple menopause symptoms

Although hormone therapy (HT) is the most commonly recommended treatment for menopause symptoms, research is ongoing for alternatives, especially nonpharmacologic options. Cognitive behavior therapy has previously been proposed as a low-risk treatment for hot flashes, but a new study suggests it may also effectively manage other menopause symptoms. Results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Women today have more options than ever before when it comes to the treatment of common menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, depression, sleep disturbances, and sexual function. Because of its proven effectiveness, HT still leads a long list of available treatment options. However, controversies regarding the adverse effects of HT have prompted some women to seek other options. Alternative treatments such as antidepressants have proven effective in treating menopause-related depression and, to a lesser extent, hot flashes. But these options can also have adverse effects.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a type of psychotherapy that teaches patients how to modify dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts and to develop personal coping strategies. It has proven effective in multiple studies in the treatment of various mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety. Previous studies relative to menopause symptoms, however, have focused only on its ability to manage hot flashes. This new study is the first of its kind to address a broad range of common physical and psychological menopause symptoms.

The study demonstrated that cognitive behavior therapy significantly improved hot flashes, depression, sleep disturbances, and sexual concerns, although little improvement was seen in anxiety. Moreover, the improvements were maintained for at least 3 months posttreatment. Although a small study, it lays the foundation for future research focused on how various psychological treatments may help the millions of women who suffer with menopause symptoms.

Findings were published in the article "Cognitive behavior therapy for menopausal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial."

This small study is in line with other studies of menopausal women showing a benefit of cognitive behavior therapy in improving hot flashes. It additionally demonstrated an improvement in depression, sleep, and sexual function. Larger trials comparing cognitive behavior therapy to other active treatments will help us to better understand how effective this therapy will be in highly symptomatic women."

Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director

Source: The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)

Comments

  1. Lavinia Martin Lavinia Martin Canada says:

    In the modern world many women now have very successful careers in extremely demanding fields.  A huge impact of menopause is not addressed by these studies, Brain Fog.  It seems to receive little attention yet impacts job performance significantly.  Sometimes to the extent of a person finding themselves driving through the city with no idea of why or where they are going ! - Actual event described by friend Psychologist (PhD).  I also have found myself in the same situation during business meeting... not fun !  Glad to see all the horrible side-effects being taken seriously, but this one too should be on the radar.  Thank God for HT at least.  Not a very scientific comment I am afraid, but many women will relate.

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