Depression and Sadness During Perimenopause and Menopause
Depression has become a major issue in America, with around 19 million patients suffering it to some degree. And among those millions, most are women. In fact, women suffer from depression two to three times more frequently than men. One out of every five women will develop this problem, and there are a variety of different specific causes for it. However, in aging women one potential cause that may be overlooked is menopause. Perimenopause and menopause could cause depression, sadness, and more.
The main reason behind this is the hormonal change that occurs during perimenopause. While menopause is the point when a woman no longer has periods, perimenopause is the transitional phase that leads to that point. It’s actually what most people are talking about when they refer to ‘going through menopause’, and during it the levels of hormones produced by the body are reduced dramatically. Estrogen production in particular is reduced by a large margin, and this hormone regulates a huge variety of different bodily functions including mental and emotional stability.
While the hormonal change itself will usually be the main trigger for depression and sadness in menopausal women, the fact is that a lot of other issues may also lead to those feelings of sadness and may also come with frustrating, anxiety, and more in addition to depression.
Two main groups of stimuli may add to the sadness experienced during perimenopause and menopause. The first is the external stimuli that has nothing to do with menopause itself but that usually occurs at the same time most women reach menopausal age. Things like aging parents, children leaving home, and worry about the future all occur around the same time that perimenopause is in full swing. These things alone can trigger depression and anxiety, and it’s made even worse when the hormonal imbalances are raging through the body.
Additionally, menopause-specific issues can add a large layer of stress to one’s life as well. Things like frustration over hot flashes, relationship troubles brought on by reduced libido, and frustration due to the other side effects that menopause causes are just three examples of different issues that will confront women as they go through menopause. And these things can all add to their burden and help cause even more depression, sadness, and anxiety.
In some cases an underlying issue may cause menopausal depression. Women who already experienced depression will be much more at risk, for example. But those who’ve never felt sadness and depression could still face them when perimenopause begins. It’s important to discuss the issue with a physician. In some cases minor lifestyle changes like dietary changes, exercise, or even menopause supplements could help. Therapy may be an effective treatment as well. Antidepressants or hormone therapy are the two last resorts, and while they may be used to combat the issue most doctors will try to help with other treatment options first.
The important thing to remember is that menopausal depression isn’t something that is abnormal. It’s actually much more common than most women realize, and identifying it is the first step towards overcoming it.