CASE STUDY: Heather Hancock, I thought I had dementia because of menopause

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Age:                 54

Occupation:    MD of a technology firm


Successful career woman Heather Hancock was unprepared for the detrimental impact the menopause had on her family, relationship and board-level position.

The 54-year-old mum of two began suffering from brain fog, crippling anxiety and fear, which made her paranoid and unable to focus on her work, leading her to believe she may be starting with early onset dementia or mental illness.

Unbeknown to Heather, it was the start of the menopause – a condition which affects 13 million UK women at any one time – and the impact on her life was catastrophic. Her relationship with her long-term partner ended, she lost her job and her relationship with her daughter was severely damaged.

It was only when she sought help from a specialist menopause doctor at the Online Menopause Centre that she realised the menopause was at the root of the problem and she was able to get treatment.

Explained Heather: “It really started back in 2017 when I was on holiday and I noticed I was reacting to situations and becoming somewhat paranoid. In retrospect, I can see that was the beginning of my perimenopause. By the end of 2018 I was really struggling. I had night sweats that affected my sleep, my mood was disturbed and I had terrible, crushing anxiety.

“I’ve always relied on my brain to think things through but I could no longer trust it and that made me incredibly anxious and fearful. My brain just wasn’t functioning, I would lose my train of thought and couldn’t recall what I had literally just said and I was scared – I thought I was starting with dementia which my father had.

“My behaviour completely changed – my daughter thought I was bipolar. I decided to face up to whatever I had and made an appointment with a psychiatrist. After careful questioning he confirmed that I wasn’t suffering with a bipolar disorder, but had significant mood disturbance and was just terribly sad. There were three casualties of my menopause – my long-term relationship with my partner, my relationship with my daughter and I lost my job because I just couldn’t function at the level required anymore.”

Heather sought help from her GP, only to be told that she had anxiety and depression and that she needed to ‘take a step back, calm down and meditate’. Desperate to try and find out what the true problem was, Heather arranged an appointment with the Online Menopause Centre, which performed blood tests that revealed she was severely deficient in key hormones.

Dr Laila ran through my levels and they were terrible – I actually said to her ‘I must be dead’ as I was basically running on empty.”

Heather was prescribed a personalised prescription of biologically identical HRT and the results were dramatic.

“Goodness me, I could not believe the change. Within weeks I felt like my old self. Because of Laila’s careful handling and expert knowledge in this area, she was able to prescribe the right hormones that mean I am now the best version of me.

“I now have a great relationship with my daughter, I’m starting to talk to my ex-partner and I’m now doing a job I love as an MD of a tech start-up business. I was lucky that I found a doctor who completely understands the menopause and also took the time to understood me as a person and not just try to treat my symptoms.”

The Online Menopause Centre (OMC) provides virtual video consultations and individually tailored treatment plans to women going through the menopause and perimenopause – the period leading up to menopause. It was founded by women’s health and menopause expert Dr Laila Kaikavoosi, who has several years’ experience treating and helping women suffering from the menopause and menopause related conditions.

The impact of the peri and menopause can be severely debilitating for women. Symptoms range from hot flushes/night sweats, headaches, sleep problems and joint pains to anxiety, poor memory, low self-confidence and loss of libido. It often happens at a time in a woman’s life when she has work and family pressures, so symptoms can often be overlooked and confused with daily life stresses.

Heather now wants greater awareness of the menopause so it is no longer treated as a taboo subject.

She said: “Menopause was something that was always under the table and never talked about but it is so important that women talk about it and get the right help from someone who really understands your body.

“Workplaces also need to support women – if someone who has always been a high performer suddenly changes, then there is a chance that it could be menopause related. They need to encourage and support women to get the right help and all those years of wisdom are not lost but can be used to great effect.

“Sadly, the data shows that there is quite a high incidence of suicide in women aged 49-54 and I do wonder if it is menopause linked in some way. The utter hopelessness that I felt meant that I could have been one of those suicide statistics had I not found such a wonderful doctor who knew what was happening to me and gave me hope to push through and regain my life. Only this time my life is so much better.”

Find out how Online Menopause Centre (OMC) can help you with your symptoms by booking an Initial consultation with one of our expert doctors.