Table of Contents

Women’s Mental Health

People who were assigned female at birth can experience specific mental health challenges that other people do not experience. Specifically, hormonal shifts can cause mental health issues around pregnancy, periods, and menopause.

Too often in our society, people write these issues off as “just hormones” or as “dramatic.” We’re here to tell you that many people experience real mental health problems when their bodies make these shifts.

Postpartum Depression

The first few days at home after having your baby (the postpartum period) are a time for rest and recovery – physically and emotionally. The postpartum period can be a time of joy and happiness, but it can also bring fatigue, sadness, anxiety and distress. During the postpartum period, about 85 percent of women experience some type of mood disturbance.

For most, the symptoms are mild and short-lived, however, 10 to 15 percent of women develop more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety. Postpartum psychiatric illness is typically divided into three categories: postpartum blues, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. Think of these disorders as existing along a continuum: postpartum blues being the mildest and postpartum psychosis the most severe form of postpartum psychiatric illness.

Postpartum Depression

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD is a condition in which a woman has severe depressive symptoms, irritability, and tension before menstruation. The symptoms of PMDD are more severe than those seen with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMDD affects between 3% and 8% of women during the years when they are having menstrual periods.

The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS. However, they are generally more severe and debilitating and include a least one mood-related symptom. Symptoms occur during the week just before menstrual bleeding and usually improve within a few days after the period starts.


Menopause is when your period stops permanently and is a normal part of a woman’s life. As your body transitions to menopause over several years, you may have menopause symptoms and irregular periods.

Menopause is characterized by physical symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep disturbance, and vaginal changes. Most women also experience emotional symptoms such as mood instability, increased anxiety, depression and even cognitive (memory) symptoms. Sexual dysfunction such as low libido and painful intercourse are also very common.

Reproductive Challenges That Affect Mental Health: Infertility, Miscarriage, Hormonal Issues

Reproductive challenges in women, such as infertility, miscarriage, and hormonal issues, can have a profound impact on mental health, affecting not only the individual but also their relationships, particularly within the context of couple dynamics.

One of the most prevalent mental health issues associated with these challenges is Depression. The inability to conceive, recurrent miscarriages, or hormonal imbalances can trigger feelings of profound sadness, hopelessness, and inadequacy, leading to a pervasive sense of despair that permeates various aspects of life.

Depression treatment related to infertility and miscarriage is often consists of a combination of therapy and counseling and medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps individuals challenge negative thought patterns, develop coping strategies, and explore emotions surrounding fertility struggles. Additionally, support groups provide a sense of community and validation. Medications such as anti-depressants may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms. Treatment aims to address the emotional impact of infertility and miscarriage, fostering resilience and empowering individuals to navigate their fertility journey with greater emotional well-being.

Grief counseling specifically tailored to address the emotional aftermath of miscarriage is another valuable resource. This form of therapy provides a supportive space for individuals to explore their feelings of loss, sadness, and grief surrounding the miscarriage. Through validation, empathy, and guidance, grief counselors help individuals navigate the complex emotions associated with pregnancy loss, facilitating healing and fostering resilience.

In addition to depression, women facing reproductive challenges may experience heightened levels of Anxiety. The uncertainty surrounding fertility treatments, fear of pregnancy loss, and concerns about future reproductive outcomes can contribute to excessive worry, restlessness, and apprehension. This heightened anxiety can further exacerbate feelings of stress and overwhelm, impacting both mental and physical well-being.

​Anxiety related to infertility and miscarriage can be treated with therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to address negative thought patterns and coping strategies. Medications may also be prescribed.

The emotional toll of reproductive challenges can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, particularly in cases of traumatic childbirth experiences or repeated pregnancy losses. Intrusive memories, flashbacks, and hypervigilance may disrupt daily functioning and quality of life, further complicating the individual’s mental health journey.

For individuals experiencing symptoms of PTSD, Trauma Focused Therapy, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can help process traumatic experiences, reduce distressing symptoms, and promote healing.

Within couple relationships, reproductive challenges can strain communication, intimacy, and mutual support. Partners may experience heightened tension, frustration, and resentment as they navigate the complexities of fertility treatments and cope with the emotional aftermath of pregnancy losses. These challenges can create barriers to effective communication and emotional connection, leading to feelings of isolation and disconnection within the relationship.

Couples facing reproductive challenges may benefit from Couples Therapy, which offers a safe space to address communication breakdowns and process complex emotions. Therapists help partners navigate fertility treatments, cope with pregnancy losses, and rebuild intimacy and mutual support, fostering resilience and strengthening the bond within the relationship.

Ultimately, the treatment approach for mental health issues associated with reproductive challenges should be holistic, addressing the unique needs of the individual and their relationship while fostering resilience, empowerment, and hope for the future. By embracing a comprehensive treatment plan that integrates therapeutic interventions, medication management, and supportive resources, individuals and couples can navigate their fertility journey with strength, courage, and resilience.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders affect the whole person, from their thoughts and emotions to their family life and physical health. Women typically experience a spectrum of moods, both positive and negative. But those suffering from mood disorders are subjected to extreme positive and negative emotions along with a loss of their sense of control over their emotional experiences. The irregularity of their moods is so severe that it causes them distress and interferes with their ability to function in their lives. Symptoms tend to occur in a cyclical fashion over an individual’s life.

Today, full recovery is possible, and there are many effective treatments to choose from including medication and hormone replacement, counseling and psychotherapy, products and supplements as well as dietary and lifestyle approaches.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, please know that you are not alone. All too often, people suffer in silence, believing that their problems are normal or that they just need to toughen up. The truth is that your mental health is important to us, and your concerns will be taken seriously.