Can menopause cause emotional detachment?

Eileen Durward
Ask Eileen

21 March 2022

Today's topic

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I take a look at why menopause can cause some women to experience emotional detachment.

A lot of women in menopause feel overly emotional, getting mood swings, worry, stress and are often crying. They find that they get affected by the slightest little thing – even a sad film on TV or sad news. They become much more emotional at every single thing.

For other women, they can become what's called emotionally detached in menopause and perimenopause.

So, let's take a closer look at this side of things and also what you can do to help yourself.

What does it mean to be emotionally detached?

Being emotionally detached means that you're finding it more difficult to create or maintain personal relationships with other people. It's also about disengaging from other people. You don't want to be around people and would far rather be on your own.

Emotional detachment can also be characterised by a lack of attention or you can be preoccupied when others are around. It's almost like, "Go away. I'm busy. I don't want to talk to anybody. I don't want to have to deal with anybody."

There can be difficulty being loving or affectionate with family members. You may find that it's much more difficult now to hug people or be hugged. A lot of women contact me who just don't want to have any kind of intimate relationships with their partners. They just really want to be on their own and to not be bothered by anything like that.

It can be unwillingness or not wanting to socialise. I know, for me, that was one of the things - I just couldn't be bothered going out. People, family and friends would want me to go out for a drink and I would just want to stay at home and put my feet up and read or watch the telly. It's this whole thing of you can't even be bothered to make an effort to meet people that once upon a time, you would have jumped at the chance to get out and see.

You can also feel quite emotionally numb so that means that instead of those women who would cry at the slightest little thing, you can see terrible news, sad news, and you literally don't feel a thing. You just feel completely detached as if you're not quite in the world.

Why does menopause cause emotional detachment?

So, let's take a look at a few ways in which menopause can cause you to feel emotionally detached:

Oxytocin levels - one of the things that is thought to cause emotional detachment is the decrease of a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is called your love hormone. You're flooded with it when you give birth so that you will fall in love with your baby. When you start a relationship and you fall in love, there is oodles of oxytocin swimming around your system.

There does seem to be a link, however, between the level of oestrogen and the level of oxytocin. As your oestrogen starts to fall in perimenopause and in menopause, the levels of oxytocin can decrease. This just makes it more difficult to form or continue with the relationships you have because that love hormone just isn't there or there's very little of it.

Stress and fatigue - at this time, most people are stressed and fatigued. Sometimes, it's a fact - you just can't be bothered with other people because you're too tired and all you want to do is sleep or rest.

Emotional defence mechanism - during menopause, there are all these changes going on, and sometimes, your ability to cope with daily life can decrease. And because of all the hormonal changes  going on, it make certain areas of your life seem more difficult. Work might be more challenging. Relationships that are maybe a little bit difficult to start with seem more challenging and much more difficult to cope with.

Your body creates this defence mechanism by shutting you off from everything so that you don't actually feel any of these extra emotions that you may have had to deal with.

Past trauma resurfacing - we know this is something that can happen for some women. Your ability to control our emotions can decrease and past traumas can come up, causing you to live through these emotions again. Grief is a really good example. That can make it more difficult to cope with other people at this particular time too.

Nutritional deficiencies - at this time when your hormones are changing, it puts a huge amount of stress on your body physically, so your nutritional needs go up. If you're not giving our body everything that it needs, then your body, as well as your mental well-being can suffer. It's really important here to make sure that you're getting all the things that you need.

You're looking at vitamins and minerals that will help to support your nervous system. Vitamin D is really important for low mood. Vitamin Bs are great for supporting our nervous system. Magnesium is really important as well. So, make sure you're getting enough of these things in your daily diet or consider supplements to boost your intake.

What can help support your emotional well-being during perimenopause and menopause

The problem is that emotional detachment can affect your relationships with your family, your friends, your loved ones, and also your work colleagues. It can create quite a lot of issues in various areas of your life, so here are a few things that you can do to help yourself:

Talk about how you are feeling - I know this is easier said than done because when you're in a state of flux and you don't know what's happening to yourself, it can be very difficult to try and put into words how you're feeling. You're nearest and dearest will very often be aware that there are changes going on, so just trying to explain even very simply that things are changing for you, and you need a little bit of help.

Ask for help - there's this whole thing with women and that we must be stoic. We must battle through the menopause, and we can do it whether we like it or not. That's not the case. This is the one time in our lives when a lot of us need that extra help and support to see us through it, so don't be afraid to ask for help, either with your family, your friends or even at work.

Don't feel guilty – it's easy to feel guilty that you are becoming emotionally detached. This is one of the things that happened to me. You start to think, "Oh, my friends and family are getting annoyed with me because I don't want to basically do anything."

Just realise that this is a phase in the menopause and is something that a lot of women will experience to some degree. For most women, and I know, for me, it was just one of the phases that came and it went. For others, they may experience it for a little while or it can go and then it may come back.

Try to realise that this is not you but your hormones that are creating this situation. Handle this the best way you can without feeling guilty.

Deal with any stress and anxiety – this is really going to help, so look at ways of managing your stress and anxiety. As I've mentioned, magnesium and B vits can support your system. You could look at  Emotional Essence - it's one of the flower essences which can be really helpful, especially if you're not quite sure what's happening to you.

Emotional Essence - combination flower remedy

  • Helps to comfort you in times of emotional distress
  • Contains a combination of flower extracts, including water violet and sweet chestnut
  • Gentle and supportive for those dealing with emotional burnout, grief or heartache.

Read more customer reviews

Exercise regularly - exercise produces endorphins that make you feel good. They help to support your nervous system and help to make you feel better. This is a really important one. Even if you're only getting out for 10 or a 15-minute walk a day, it can make a huge difference to how you feel emotionally.

Keep hydrated - dehydration will make any emotional symptom worse so, it's really important to keep your water intake up.

When to consult your doctor

For some women, this situation can become completely overwhelming, and they find that they cannot cope. It starts to affect the whole of their daily life and for some women, it can get to the point where they don't even want to get up in the morning. If you start feeling like this, it can be veering towards depression and for this you really do need to seek medical advice.

If you have got to that stage, it's about asking for help, about not being guilty for asking help, and just to make sure that you are supported in some way through this particular phase.

I hope you found this one helpful. It's really quite a complex situation. If any of you out there went through this and you did things to help yourself, please share them. We would all love to hear about it.

Until next week, take care.

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