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Periods, Pregnancy and Post-Menopause: How Female Hormones Affect Mental Health

Hormonal changes can wreak havoc on a woman's emotions and kick-off or worsen mental health issues throughout her life. First, there's premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Then, hormonal shifts related to pregnancy—or trying to get pregnant—can also impact our mood. Lastly, menopause throws us another curveball.

Below is information about the various stages of women's health and the mental health challenges that can come with each of them. You'll also find out how to get help using your TRS-ActiveCare health benefits.

  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

    According to the U.S. Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health (OWN), more than 90% of women say they are affected by premenstrual symptoms.

    PMS can include physical symptoms like bloating, headaches, and abdominal cramps, but the mental symptoms may be even worse. They can consist of irritability, mood swings, and feelings of sadness.

    While PMS can strike anyone of reproductive age, studies show it's most common in women in their 30s.

    If your symptoms cause you to miss work or retreat from friends and family, it may be time to seek help. Your OB/GYN may be able to recommend treatment or refer you to a mental health specialist. You can also connect with a Personal Health Guide (PHG) by calling 1-866-355-5999, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or chatting through the BCBSTX app to find a mental health specialist. The app is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

    PMDD is a more severe form of PMS affecting up to 8% of women during their reproductive years. It can be disabling and dangerous.

    PMDD typically affects women in their late 20s to mid-30s. Studies show it is may be worse in women as they get closer to menopause. PMDD's major risk factors include a history of depression or other mental health issues, family history, and stress.

    Psychological Symptoms include:

    • Anxiety or depression
    • Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
    • Extreme anger, irritability, or sadness
    • Mood swings
    • An overwhelmed, overly sensitive, or out-of-control feeling
    • Withdrawal from friends, family, or social activities

    Treatment for PMDD is typically similar to treatment of depression. If you or a loved one is experiencing PMDD, it's important to get mental health help.

  • Pregnancy-Related Mental Health Issues

    The hormonal changes of fertility and pregnancy can hit without warning. If you've just had a baby, postpartum depression can confuse and cripple you at a time when you're supposed to be enjoying motherhood.

    Your OB/GYN may be an excellent place to turn if fertility medication contributes to your mental state or if you're pregnant or just had a baby and need support. Seek professional mental health help if your symptoms become severe and interfere with daily life.

    Through your TRS-ActiveCare plan, you also can access Ovia Health, with resources from fertility to pregnancy to parenting. It's a great place to get information and support when you're starting a family.

  • Perimenopause, Menopause, and Post-Menopause

    The period leading up to, including, and after menopause brings another hormonal change that can cause mental health issues. Studies show the incidence of depression doubles during this time.

    Women who have had depression or anxiety in the past are among the most likely to experience serious mental health issues related to menopause, but anyone can be affected. Life changes and other stressors related to physical health, jobs, and family may contribute to depression and anxiety around menopause.

    If you're feeling depressed, anxious, or think you might need help with a mental health issue at this stage in your life, support is available.

  • How to Get Help

    For mental health care through your TRS-ActiveCare plan, call a Personal Health Guide at 1-866-355-5999, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or chat through the BCBSTX app, available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. You can also call Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas' (BCBSTX) 24/7 Nurseline at 1-833-968-1770, anytime, day or night, to speak to a nurse.

    Click here for more information about using your mental health benefits. You can get coverage details for your plan here.

    Your plan also includes the interactive Well onTarget® program. Through this program, you'll find many resources about mental health, including tips for finding a provider and videos and articles about conditions like depression and anxiety.

    You can call the OWH HELPLINE at 1-800-994-9662, 8 am to 5 pm CT, Monday — Friday, for help with women's health issues and find more information on the Centers for Disease Control website or the Office on Women’s Health.

    Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you are experiencing a medical emergency.