Women are spending years being misdiagnosed with depression because GPs do not know all the symptoms of the menopause, campaigners warn.
Hot flushes, low mood and difficulty sleeping are common side effects – but there are more than 30 that could indicate oestrogen levels are dropping.
This happens during the period of transition before the menopause, known as perimenopause.
It can last for up to a decade and trigger allergies, body odour, dizziness, restless legs, loss of confidence and panic attacks.
Katie Taylor (pictured) says it took her four years to be diagnosed with menopause after being sent to a heart specialist and orthopaedic specialist due to her aching bone
Introducing mandatory menopause training in medical schools could prevent thousands of women from being misdiagnosed – and also save the NHS huge sums of money.
Katie Taylor, founder and chief executive of The Latte Lounge, an online menopause support group, said it took her four years to be diagnosed.
‘From the age of 43 to 47, all my symptoms were psychological,’ she said.
‘I still had periods and I never had hot flushes. I was a completely capable mum-of-four juggling working and running a home – and then I started feeling very teary, very low and I had no joy in life.
‘I started suffering with heart palpitations, anxiety, brain fog, lack of confidence, weight gain and terrible fatigue.
‘I was terrified I was suffering from early-onset dementia because I was forgetting things. But every time I went to my doctor they kept diagnosing it as depression.’
Mrs Taylor, now 53, was sent to a heart specialist as well as an orthopaedic specialist due to her aching bones – but neither could pinpoint what was causing her symptoms.
It was only after she finally saw a gynaecologist – who diagnosed her within ten minutes with perimenopause – that she was prescribed hormone replacement therapy.
‘The cost to the economy is huge,’ she said.
‘I missed loads of days of work and ended up leaving my job.
‘In medical schools they need to teach GPs about the perimenopause – those ten years between the ages of 40 and 50 in particular when hormone levels fluctuate.
‘It’s all those psychological symptoms that nobody is joining the dots on.
‘There are many amazing GPs and I don’t blame them at all – after all they can’t be specialists in everything.
‘However, if they were taught about it think about the millions of pounds they could be saving and all the women they could be helping.’
As part of the Daily Mail’s campaign to Fix the HRT Crisis, we are calling for mandatory menopause training in medical schools.
Mrs Taylor added that through her Facebook support group, which has 20,000 members, she regularly hears of similar experiences.
She said: ‘Some women can take up to ten years to get that diagnosis. Millions are being given anti-depressants.
‘I’ve made a checklist of 34 symptoms on our website that I tell women to take to their doctor. We need to educate everyone about perimenopause.’