As women enter the beginning of menopause, known as perimenopause, their risk for depression increases. Is this a coincidence or does it means that menopause is to blame for this condition? Research has shown that there are certain chemical changes that occur within the body at this stage of life that can trigger symptoms that range from mild mood swings to overwhelming and sometimes debilitating episodes of depression. In order to address the problem, it’s important to understand the causes of depression during menopause, how women can help themselves, and what other options for treatment are available.
How menopause causes hormonal changes?
Menopause is characterized by the end of the reproductive period in a woman’s life. As the ovaries stop producing estrogen, there is a deficiency in the body. Estrogen works in many functions of the body and when it decreases, it causes many changes to occur in the endocrine system. Depression is believed to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. The hormonal fluctuations that accompany menopause are believed to at the very least be a part of the cause of depression during this stage of life.
Other causes of depression during menopause
In addition to hormonal imbalance, some women have additional problems that arise as the result of menopause. The lack of estrogen can also lead to sexual dysfunction. Estrogen helps to keep the vaginal tissues moist and elastic. In some cases the deficiency can cause these tissues to become dry and atrophied, resulting in more fragile tissue and painful sex. Other contributing symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and mood swings can combine together to create fatigue, extreme discomfort and increases in emotional distress.
Emotional factors in menopause that may lead to depression
Menopause is a transitional stage of life for women. They are leaving behind the ability to conceive and bear children, and in addition, their bodies are aging and showing the associated changes. This can impact some women very hard as changes of this type can be emotionally wrenching and difficult to deal with. Some go through a period of grieving and mourning for the loss of their fertility. This is particularly true for women who closely associate their femininity and attractiveness to men with the ability to bear children.
Some women gain weight during menopause, and feel that they are no longer attractive to their mates. Their self-image is low along with confidence and morale.
Cognitive changes such as memory loss and confusion also happen as a response to hormonal imbalances. In addition, some women experience irritability, anxiety and panic attacks. Not all women have all of the symptoms. Nor do they experience menopause in the same way as everyone is an individual. For those who have an abundance of symptoms, the combination can be grounds for experiencing depression. The physical conditions combined with psychological factors can be overwhelming for some.
When should a health professional be consulted?
Whenever depression lasts for over two weeks, or it interferes with a person’s normal enjoyment of life, it’s time to at least consider getting help. Depression can lead to an overall decline in the immune system. The symptoms of menopause generally ease as the transitional stage completes, but if not, it should not be left untreated. Your health care provider can test for low progesterone, which is nature’s antidepressant. In some cases, taking progestin or progesterone can help to stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain, relieving the symptoms of depression.
How can depression during menopause be treated?
Alternative natural supplements for menopause may be helpful. They have been found effective in alleviating most of the symptoms of menopause. Plants containing is flavones and phytoestrogens are used to derive extracts, which act like estrogen in the body. These are concentrated and used in making supplements that help to restore hormonal balance within the body. This can have a domino effect by reducing most of the symptoms of menopause which may be combining to make the emotional symptoms worse. Getting better sleep, feeling less irritable, moody and fewer panic attacks may help to lighten the symptoms of depression. St. John’s wort is another herbal remedy that has been shown to be helpful in easing depression.
Hormonal imbalances during menopause may help to trigger depression in women. This alone is enough for some women. For others, the combination of physical discomforts, emotional issues due to negative feelings about menopause, and self-image and hormonal imbalance can conspire together to increase episodes of depression. Natural supplements such as Macafem might help alleviate the symptoms of menopause can help to restore the balance naturally, and may provide relief for many. If depression still continues or becomes severe enough to interfere with normal activities, a visit to your health care provider may be in order.