Carol Vorderman has opened up about feeling almost suicidal while she struggled with “severe” depression as she was going through the menopause.
The broadcaster, 62, said that during that period of her life, she experienced “really, really black” thoughts despite her life circumstances remaining positive.
In an appearance on the Postcards from Midlife podcast, Vorderman told hosts Lorraine Candy and Trish Halpin that she struggled with feeling unstable in 2015.
“When I went through [the menopause] I had severe depression for about six months. I think it was 2015,” she recalled. “There was nothing wrong in my life, I had made a lot of money, my kids were fine, my mum was fine. There was no problem.”
Despite things going well, Vorderman said she couldn’t help but feel like life was pointless. She continued: “And yet, I would wake up in this huge bed in this huge house, I’ve got a swimming pool outside and all of that, and I just thought, ‘What’s the point?’”
The TV star added: “I understand much more now clinical depression, where you go: ‘I can’t go through this again, how can I make this stop, and those thoughts of, ‘Well, there is obviously one way to make this stop’.”
Vorderman has long campaigned for more awareness about how menopause affects women’s everyday lives. She is the patron of the Menopause Mandate campaign group.
She is far from the only celebrity to speak out about the impact of the menopause on mental health and wellbeing. Last year, comedian Kathy Burke revealed that she considered taking her own life during the menopause.
The all-star director, writer, comedian and actor, 58, reflected on the difficult period in her early 50s, which followed her recovery from a sickness that led to a dependence on steroids. Hitting the menopause then further led to a deterioration in her mental health, with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) not an option for her due to other medication she was on.
"I started to have pretty dark, suicidal thoughts," she told The Observer.
"I’ve always had bouts of depression but this was something else entirely. I don’t mind telling you that it was quite frightening.”
Read more: Steps star Claire Richards left housebound with 'horrendous' menopause-related anxiety (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)
"Oh, but I’m so glad I didn’t kill myself during menopause," Burke added. "That would have been a bit of a shame. But listen, that didn’t happen. I came through the other side, and I’m f***ing delighted I did."
Thankfully, more is being done to raise awareness of the menopause and the help available through other celebrities like Lisa Snowdon and Davina McCall opening up about their experiences.
The menopause occurs when periods stop due to lower hormone levels, typically between the ages of 45 and 55, or sometimes younger. Menopause and perimenopause (when you have symptoms before this point) can cause both physical and mental symptoms. Here's what to be aware of, but whatever you're going through, it's important to remember that help is out there.
Mental health symptoms
Common mental health symptoms, according to the NHS, can include:
Changes to your mood, like low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem
Problems with memory or concentration (brain fog)
Physical health symptoms
Common physical symptoms include:
Hot flushes, when you have sudden feelings of hot or cold in your face, neck and chest which can make you dizzy
Difficulty sleeping, which may be a result of night sweats and make you feel tired and irritable during the day
Palpitations, when your heartbeats suddenly become more noticeable
Headaches and migraines that are worse than usual
Muscle aches and joint pains
Changed body shape and weight gain
Skin changes including dry and itchy skin
Reduced sex drive
Vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Symptoms can last for months or years, and can change over time.
Watch: Lisa Snowdon shares her menopause struggles
The NHS urges that getting advice and help for symptoms early can reduce the impact that perimenopause and menopause may have on your health, relationships and work.
There are lifestyle changes you can make yourself to help, such as eating well, exercising and looking after your mental wellbeing, as well as treatment options available. The main one is HRT, which involves using oestrogen to replace your body's own levels during menopause, which can help relieve most symptoms.
Other options available include testosterone gel for reduced sex drive, mood and energy levels (it's not currently licensed for use in women, but can be prescribed after the menopause by a specialist doctor), oestrogen for vaginal dryness and discomfort, non-hormone treatments if you cannot, or chose not to, have HRT, antidepressents to help with symptoms of depression or anxiety, or the talking therapy cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Our useful guide runs through other things you need to know about the menopause.
See a GP or nurse if you think you have perimenopause or menopause symptoms. You can also find your nearest NHS or private menopause sepcialist on the British Menopause Society website, find an NHS psychological therapies service here, watch videos of women talking about living with menopause here and find out more information on this NHS page.
You can find support and advice from The Menopause Charity.
Experiencing suicidal thoughts can be complicated, frightening and confusing, but help is out there. For confidential emotional support contact The Samaritans at any time by calling 116 123 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you think someone is in immediate danger, the quickest way to get help is to call an ambulance on 999.