Ageing takes toll on mental health

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2006, 12:00am

Menopausal women troubled by physical changes run a higher risk of developing depression and suicidal thoughts, a psychologist has warned.

The warning came as Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Centre for Social Policy Studies released survey results yesterday that found more than 60 per cent of 512 middle-aged women interviewed were bad tempered, losing their memory and suffering pain.

The respondents, aged between 40 and 50, were polled in February and early March, with 66 per cent saying they were ill-tempered, while 66 per cent suffered from back pain.

Sixty-two per cent said they were losing their memory and found it difficult to concentrate, and 60 per cent said they became tired easily.

Clinical psychologist Katherine Kot Lam-kat said apart from the physical symptoms, menopausal women should devote more attention to their mental health.

'They seem to know a lot about health problems related with menopause, but it seems they are not aware of the psychological impact. Some might develop depression or even suicidal thoughts,' she said.

Dr Kot said menopausal women had to handle emotional problems arising from the ageing process, including changes to their ability, beauty, self-image and sense of security.

'As shown in the results, they had memory loss and tired easily. They feel insecure and anxious because of that, as they are worried their working ability might be affected by menopause,' she said.

Dr Kot said the problems were further complicated when the women became confused about their role.

'These women used to have a strong will to stay alive ... for the sake of taking care of their little kids,' she said. 'But as their children grow up, these mothers are suddenly freed from lots of duties. Being free can be a challenge for them, as they feel they are no longer needed.'