Menopause or Depression?
Women become particularly vulnerable to depression as they approach the menopause stages in their lives. It can become overwhelming and confusing sometimes, as a woman might not be aware that they’re experiencing perimenopause symptoms.
There are many other symptoms a woman may experience alongside a change in moods such as night sweats, hot flashes, weight gain, joint pains, and more.
It is very common for the mood to change during menopause due to the shift in hormone levels. There are many different ways this can be managed by looking at medical and non-medical treatments.
It is always advisable to speak with a professional before undergoing any treatments, as previous medical conditions may impact how certain treatments work.
Nevertheless, it is important to remember that experiencing depression symptoms during menopause is normal and can be managed over time.
Understanding your menopause symptoms
Menopause is a natural process that usually occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 55, which marks the end of menstrual periods due to lower hormone levels. Menopause is officially marked when there has been a year since the last menstrual cycle happened.
Over 75% of women will experience symptoms of menopause that can impact simple day-to-day tasks and habits.
Depression can occur at any age and can happen due to many factors such as work/personal relationships or anything else that may be impacting a woman’s life. However, the risk of depression naturally increases when a woman is going through menopause.
Some of the common symptoms women can experience are:
- Interrupted or poor sleep
- Anxiety or a history of depression
- Stressful life events
- Weight gain or a higher body mass index (BMI)
- Menopause at a younger age
- Menopause caused by surgical removal of the ovaries
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
When any of the symptoms become more severe or have been experienced for at least 2 weeks, it is important that a consultation with a healthcare professional is organized. The sooner these symptoms are dealt with the easier it will be to manage them throughout the menopause stages.
There are many different treatment options available to help to manage depression symptoms during menopause. When looking at both medical and non-medical options it is important to consult with a professional before undertaking treatments.
Many healthcare professionals will commonly recommend taking antidepressants. Most women show positive improvements and few adverse effects. Although, it is worth noting that it can take several weeks for the medication to start showing improvements. Moreover, it can be difficult to stop taking this nature of medication once you’ve started, and as a result, we are not the biggest fans of this.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is another method that has shown promising outcomes. Often this therapy is combined with antidepressant medication.
When looking at more natural treatment options, exploring different supplements for mental health is advisable. Internal Youth has written a whole post on the different herbs that can really boost your mental well-being.
Herbs such as saffron, ashwagandha, turmeric, ginseng, and chamomile contain powerful properties and have been used as natural remedies for decades to help with overall mental health.
Saffron and Ashwagandha in particular possess very powerful antidepressant properties and have been heavily studied to show these benefits.