Depression: a medical condition where a person experiences long and intense periods of low moods, which affects their ability to function.
Menopause is a normal and -- for most women -- largely uneventful part of life. For some women, however, the menopausal transition is a period of biologic vulnerability with noticeable physiologic, psychological and somatic symptoms.
The perimenopausal period is associated with a higher vulnerability for depression, with risk rising from early to late perimenopause and decreasing during postmenopause. Women with a history of depression are up to five times more likely to have a MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) diagnosis during this time period.
Symptoms such as feeling down, significant changes in weight, social withdrawal, inability to concentrate, disinterest in life and anxiousness is best not to be dismissed as another menopause side effect, but something to be addressed with your health practitioner.
Not Quite Depressed: Just Feeling Down?
Feeling down is most often experienced during peri-menopause when the body is under stress while coping with fluctuations in hormones, particularly oestrogen and progesterone.
Add stresses such as lack of sleep or raising teenagers, can leave you tired and vulnerable.
Night sweats can leave you sleep deprived resulting in feeling irritable and feeling down as well as an overall loss of sense of well-being.
Midlife stress can contribute to feeling low during menopause.
Such stresses include:
- caring for aging parents
- raising teenagers
- career changes
- laid off work for younger counterparts
- partner having his own mid-life crises
Studies have shown that depression is more frequent during oestrogen lulls. .
In the months or years before menopause (called perimenopause) oestrogen levels are erratic and unpredictable. During perimenopause, some women may experience depression caused by unstable oestrogen levels.
Tips to lift your mood during the menopause:
- Yoga movements and breathing exercises can stimulate the release of mood enhancing hormones referred to as endorphins.
- The same endorphins are also released during exercise. When you exercise, the endorphins released can help reduce pain and trigger a positive reaction in your brain.
- The next time you feel overwhelmed, stop and take a deep breath; deep breaths will help your muscles to relax. Try standing up and stretching, as this can help loosen up your body and relieve some of your tension.
- Taking psychotherapy or counseling may be needed in order to help you understand your body and become better acquainted with the changes going on in your body.
- Finally, learn to say no. If you spend all your time trying to please everyone else, you won't have any time or energy left for yourself.
Unfortunately some women may struggle to find the right information and may find themselves confused and feeling anxious as they go through the menopause. If you would like to know more on this topic please join in the discussion below.
Julie Dargan is a Nurse, Naturopath BHSc and has worked in the wellness industry for over 30 years. Julie's FREE 5 Day Kickstart Program is excellent to get you on the right track in your Guide to Healthier Eating in the Menopause. Julie also has a private Facebook group for women over 50 and looking for solutions to changes they are experiencing in their menopause journey.