By Emma Dooney
Gabrielle Union has shared her experience with perimenopause, the condition which refers to the transition stage before menopause.
Speaking at Gwyneth Paltrow’s In Goop Health virtual summit, the actor revealed the negative effects of these hormonal changes on her mental health – and the strategies she used to overcome them.
Gabrielle was diagnosed with perimenopause in her 30s after she sought medical advice for a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms.
However, the Bring it On star, who is now 48, said her symptoms have worsened more recently and ‘reached a fever pitch’ last September. She told the conference’s participants that her concentration and memory were so compromised that she believed she had ‘early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s.’
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“I thought I was losing my mind,” Gabrielle admitted.
Women usually enter perimenopause five or six years before they reach menopause, when their periods stop completely. Signs are not always obvious, but typically include mood swings, anxiety, poor sleep, and weight fluctuations or weight gain.
For Gabrielle, the condition resulted in a temporarily inflated figure. The higher estrogen levels caused her body to severely bloat in a very short space of time – a common symptom of perimenopause. “I gained 20 pounds overnight of water retention,” she said.
It wasn’t just her body that was suffering. Gabrielle’s mental health was severely affected, with suicidal thoughts crossing her mind at one point. “I fell into something so dark in December that it scared me,” she said.
She recalled an argument with her husband, Dwayne, during which she began to consider harming herself. “Instead of my usual problem-solving, immediately my brain, that little inner voice said, ‘He’s never going to get it unless you’re dead’.”
Fortunately, Gabrielle managed to combat these negative thoughts with therapy and education. “I was able to get through it with talk therapy and diving into how I can regulate my hormones,” she said.
Emma is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. She covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health or lifestyle story. When she's not reporting on the British monarchy and A-list celebs, you can find her whipping up vegan treats and running the roads to cheesy '90s pop music...but not at the same time, obviously.
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