(Natural News) Cognitive behavior therapy is a short-term, non-medical approach that can be used to treat a wide range of health problems, from stress and fatigue to even hot flashes. It focuses on teaching patients how to modify dysfunctional behaviors, thoughts and emotions, and how to develop personal coping strategies against them. Now, recent research suggests that this form of therapy can do so much more than treating hot flashes for menopausal women.
A study published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), found that cognitive behavior therapy can help manage other menopause symptoms like sleep difficulties and sexual dysfunction. This study is the first to address the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy on physical and psychological menopause symptoms.
The therapeutic effects of cognitive behavior therapy
While previous research has established that cognitive behavior therapy has the ability to deal with menopause symptoms, these studies focused only on its effectiveness on hot flashes. In this study, researchers from St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy for menopausal symptoms compared to a waitlist condition with no active intervention.
The research team recruited 71 perimenopausal or postmenopausal women who were seeking treatment for their symptoms. In a randomized controlled trial, blind assessments on the participants were conducted at the start of the trial, 12 weeks after the beginning and three months after treatment. The cognitive behavior therapy sessions involved psychoeducation, as well as cognitive and behavioral strategies for vasomotor and depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleep difficulties and sexual concerns. Afterward, the researchers conducted an intention-to-treat analysis.
From their analysis, the researchers concluded that cognitive behavior therapy does indeed improve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, sleep disturbances, depression and sexual concerns. These findings remained consistent for at least three months after treatment with cognitive behavior therapy. While the study is small, the researchers claim that their findings can pave the way for future research to focus on how various psychological treatments can help many women suffering from menopausal symptoms.
“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,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director who was not involved in the study. “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.”
Other ways to treat menopausal symptoms
Cognitive behavior therapy is not the only form of treatment you can take to deal with menopausal symptoms. Below you can find a few lifestyle choices you can make to ease your symptoms:
- Exercise lightly, but regularly. Estrogen levels are greatly influenced by the way you exercise. Try not to exercise too much, but do it regularly. In fact, another study published in the journal Menopause found that gentle or moderate-intensity exercise can bring small improvements in sleep quality, insomnia, and depression. (Related: How exercise can lessen the symptoms of menopause.)
- Take quick showers using warm water. Itching is one of the more irritating symptoms of menopause, but it can be alleviated with a quick shower. Changes in hormone levels can cause the skin to dry, leading to itching. A 10-minute bath using warm — not hot — water regularly can stimulate the natural moisture on the skin.
- Quit smoking. Smoking has been found to negatively affect the endocrine system, which limits the body’s ability to produce estrogen. This causes signs of menopause and even makes these signs much worse. Even then, smoking is generally not good for overall health.
Learn more about alternative treatments for menopause symptoms at WomensHealth.news.