Menopause: Things to watch for: Depression

Women have a lot going on when it comes to both puberty and again when you are going through menopause. These hormonal changes, particularly the levels of estrogen, can play tricks on your brain causing mood swings amongst other things. Of course, the biggest mood swing of them all is depression and menopause can cause that in quite a large percentage of women.

Depression, according to research is an independent risk factor in menopause. Meaning it’s not your hot flashes or insomnia that are causing you to feel blue but the hormonal shift itself.

Signs To Watch Out For

Depression and menopause should not be taken lightly as there are things you can do to combat the problem. However, you also have to be able to recognize the depression in menopause in order to be able to do something about it. The main issue at hand in regards to this matter is that the depression will likely affect your overall quality of life so it is important to recognize what is happening and get help for it instead of being stoic about it.

Having negative feelings about getting older and developing menopause are cause for concern as well as previous depressive episodes earlier in life and post partum depression. Understanding your history of depression can be a clue and something to pay attention to when experiencing menopause. Ask yourself what your previous signs of depression were (for example, sleeping in the day, lack of motivation, etc.) so that you can be aware if you are heading down the same path. Sometimes it’s hard to have enough self awareness to understand we are headed for depression, so having close friends and family keep an eye out can be helpful in catching you in early stages of depression.

Treatment Options

There is Hormone Replacement Therapy that can help alleviate many menopausal symptoms. Be sure to talk to you health care practitioner to make sure it’s the right choice for you. Your practitioner should be able to go over risks and benefits and what to expect taking HRT.

Changes in diet to include foods with phytoestrogens found in soy products and other legumes are important as well. While they cannot replace the estrogen, these plant-based estrogen hormones can help level out those hormonal cycles of highs and lows. Exercise has also been shown to improve depression scores. If you can get out moving, even 10 minutes a day, that can improve your mood considerably.

Herbal remedies for depression in menopause are also acceptable forms of treatment and are actually increasing in popularity. St. John’s Wort has been recognized as a mood booster and Ginseng, while more for memory recall, has also been proven beneficial as well. SAMe, a naturally occurring molecule that all living beings produce had been offered in the herbal remedy arena as a mood booster. What it does is help your body’s neurotransmitters communicate better as well as better regulate hormones. Again, best to discuss with your health care practitioner. Many of the herbs listed above have drug interactions so it’s important to have an expert eye on you before you take any herbals.

As stated already, talk to your health care provider about what is the right thing for you.


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