The years surrounding menopause are often associated with a high prevalence of psychological disorders such as emotional instability, depressive moods, anxiety, sleep disorders, and sexual dysfunction. Despite the far-ranging impact of the symptoms on quality of life, only a few studies have assessed the efficacy of psychological interventions.

A study published in the September issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics evaluates an open trial of cognitive-behavioral group intervention consisting of psychoeducation, group discussion and coping skills training for women suffering from climacteric symptoms.

Physiological and psychosocial factors influence menopausal psychological symptoms including a decline of sex hormones, a change in lifestyle, attitude towards menopause, pre-menopausal mental health and sociocultural factors.

In the trial, thirty women were administered standardized and specially developed assessment instruments. The test batteries were administered 3 times, twice before (T1 and T2) and once after the group intervention (T3).

Significant improvements were observed in anxiety, depression, partnership relations, and overall score of sexuality, hot flashes and cardiac complaints from pre- to post-intervention. No changes were found for sexual satisfaction and stressfulness of menopausal symptoms.

This pilot study points at a possible effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral interventions for the treatment of climacteric syndrome. Further studies will have to use randomized trials, comparing different treatments (HRT, phytoestrogens, relaxation training, discussion groups) for their effectiveness.

Source: Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics