Two new studies state that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven to help treat menopause symptoms, including night sweats and hot flushes. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a method using a psychotherapeutic approach – a talking approach. Both studies, which were conducted by Professor Myra Hunter from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, and team, determined that CBT works as a safe substitute for the more the commonly used treatment: hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
The most common symptoms during menopause are hot flushes and night sweats (HFNS), and they affect more than 20-25% of healthy women during menopause. If women have undergone cancer treatment prior to menopause, their symptoms tend to be worse – with HFNS affecting 65-85% of these women. The women have less interest in treating menopause using HRT.
Other symptoms of menopause include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Vaginal Itching
- Frequent urinating
- Leaking urine
- Tenderness in breasts
- Back pain
- Joint pain
- Painful intercourse
The following psychological symptoms may occur during menopause:
- Problems concentrating
- Problems sleeping
- Mood swings
Study number one, MENOS1, which was published in The Lancet Oncology, analyzed 96 women in a randomized controlled trial (RCT), who were suffering from HFNS after they had undergone breast cancer treatment. The researchers determined that CBT greatly lowered their symptoms after looking at the 9 week rate, compared with normal treatment at 9 weeks. This reduction in symptoms was controlled at week 26. The authors believe it would be helpful for most breast cancer patients to be treated with CBT in regards to menopause, and breast cancer specialists should begin looking into the method.
Study number two, MENOS2, which was published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, studied 140 other healthy women during menopause in an RCT over the same period – 26 weeks. These authors determined once again, that CBT resulted in dramatically reducing the symptoms of menopausal women.
MENOS 1 and MENOS2 both showed improvements in sleep, mood swings, and general quality of life.
“Cognitive behavioral therapies are brief, effective, non-medical treatment options for menopausal women that can be delivered by trained health professionals. Our finding that self-help therapies can be as effective as group therapies is very exciting as we are keen to increase access to these kind of psychological therapies.”
At present, Hunter and colleagues in the Netherlands, are formulating a study which will focus solely on women who have undergone breast cancer treatment, and also a study that will determine if CBT would benefit men with symptoms resulting from prostate cancer treatment.
MENOS 1 was funded by Cancer Research UK, and MENOS2 was funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London.
Written By Christine Kearney