- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Kate Murphy ZemanMany well-informed women going through menopause today greet hot flashes without surprise, step up calcium intake to guard against weakening bones, and consider hormone therapy to ease symptoms and protect their hearts. But what most of them never expected are an assortment of behavioral and cognitive effects ranging from memory loss to difficulty concentrating to verbal lapses. Neuropsychologist Claire Warga writes in her new book, Menopause and the Mind, that she first began to notice these behavioral symptoms in her patients; when she started to see them among a wide variety of women she knew socially, she got curious enough to do some research at a medical library on menopause and the mind. She turned up nearly nothing, but when she began to look for information on estrogen's effects on the brain, she hit paydirt -- a wide variety of recent studies that had begun to explore changes in memory and attention caused by estrogen loss. As she began to track down researchers and talk to organizations like the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the North American Menopause Society, she was dismayed to find that while the new research was becoming widely known, the connection with behavioral symptoms during menopause was largely still unrecognized, and that the organizations were waiting for consensus to form before making any recommendations to their members.
Meanwhile, the critical information wasn't making its way to the women suffering the cognitive effects of declining estrogen levels, women who in many cases, Warga reports, had such noticeable lapses that they worried they might have early-onset Alzheimer's or a brain tumor. Warga began to get the message out with a 1997 New York magazine cover story; in her groundbreaking book, she expands on that story to describe in detail the cognitive symptoms that can be associated with perimenopause and menopause, to cover the scientific findings on estrogen and the brain, and to explore treatment options for women experiencing these behavioral effects. An extensive section of the book presents screening techniques and self-tests so readers can determine whether it's likely they are suffering from the syndrome Warga has named WHMS -- Warga's Hormonal Misconnection Syndrome. She emphasizes that though some of these effects are strange, they are normal in the same way that hot flashes are normal, and they need not go unrelieved. Treatment options she discusses include various forms of hormone replacement therapy, dietary changes, and memory enhancement exercises. Menopause and the Mind is at once a wake-up call to a medical establishment that has been woefully slow in responding to what is clearly a serious biological effect of menopause and a survival guide for the women experiencing it; it's an empowering addition to the library of any woman over 30 who wants to take control of her heath and mental well-being for years to come.
--Kate Murphy Zeman