Menopause and depression are felt around the same time by some women. Experts identified menopause as the cause and depression as the effect. The reduction in estrogen hormone levels in women during menopause is said to have influenced the occurrence of depression.
However other behavioural problems may trigger the onset of depression. Behaviour tendencies could be menopausal symptoms themselves like mood swings, irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, a decrease in energy, and fatigue. Also, a negative outlook on menopause and depression is not a far possibility. A woman who views menopause as a long and painful ageing process can actually feel depressed over time. The thought of losing her youthfulness and beauty to wrinkles and memory loss can cause her to be melancholic.
Do all women experience depression with menopause?
No, not all women have to go through menopause and depression. One is not a pre-requisite of the other. While menopause is a natural occurrence to all females, depression is not. It is estimated that 20% of menopausal women experience symptoms of depression.
Are there any risk factors?
Some studies have pointed towards specific risk factors including:
- previous depressive episodes such as premenstrual syndrome
- previous postpartum depression
- the existence of major menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes, nocturnal sweating, insomnia;
- menopause not being treated with HT
- High body mass index
- Major stressful events: divorce, loss of a job, loss of a loved one
- low self-esteem
Some studies have also implicated a negative outlook on menopause as a risk factor. A woman’s attitude and lifestyle before the onset of menopause can greatly influence the occurrence of menopause and depression on the actual menopause phase in her life. Staying active, outgoing, and living a healthy lifestyle, and having a generally positive stance in life can affect how women cope with the challenges of menopause.
How is depression during menopause managed?
If you feel you have symptoms of depression, it is imperative to reach out to your doctor immediately to find out about the treatment options available for you. The list below includes the common approaches to managing this condition and is not a replacement for medical advice or consultation for your condition.
- Take medications: Antidepressants are available as a treatment for women suffering from moderate to severe depression. However, it is highly advised that a health care practitioner be consulted before any medication is taken. Keep in mind that any medication will have its side effects too.
- Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy and Herbal Alternatives: HRT, as with the natural alternative treatments, has never really proven that they are perfectly effective as an antidepressant. However, for some women, the symptoms associated with menopause such as insomnia and hot flushes are the precipitating factor for their depression. HR therapy may relieve these symptoms and in turn, reduce the symptoms of the associated depression. With regards to herbal therapy, keep in mind that studies on these have not gathered enough evidence to establish their effectiveness and safety.
- Get Therapy: Health care professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical nurses, or social workers should be consulted especially in persistent menopause and depression problems.
- Get Support: Joining a support group and surrounding yourself with a support system of friends and family will make you realize that you are not alone in what you feel.
Menopause and depression should not necessarily go hand in hand. You can unbind their ties by being more accepting of menopause and treating it as another phase in your adult life.