Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness or a lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed. Your brain is full of estrogen and progesterone receptors, and the changing estrogen levels of menopause can trigger confusing and sometimes debilitating emotional states.
Is this normal?
Yes. Many studies now show that depressive symptoms get worse during the menopause transition.
What can you do?
If you are experiencing extreme sadness for most of the day nearly every day for at least 2 weeks, you may have clinical depression. Speak to a mental health provider about this for more help. And most importantly, don’t suffer in silence.
Stay tuned for more offerings to help with mood, coming soon from Alloy.
What’s the deal with depression during menopause?
Depression is defined as a persistent feeling of sadness or a lack of interest in the things you previously enjoyed. It can happen as a symptom of menopause and can be upsetting and even debilitating. You don’t have to suffer in silence.
During menopause, your changing hormones can trigger confusing and sometimes debilitating emotional states. As your estrogen and progesterone fluctuate, they can wreak havoc on the parts of your brain that control your mood and how you feel. Depression can be serious, and it can negatively impact your life.
Why is this happening?
There are lots of reasons you may be experiencing depression. As we mentioned, hormones play a role. But there are other events that occur during midlife that can trigger negative feelings. First, you’re getting older. That in itself is a huge transition, and is something you’ll need to adapt to. It’s not easy. Second, during this time it’s common to have children leaving the house, and parents who are sick, as well as other significant stressful life events.
Is it normal?
Yes, depression during menopause is normal. There have been many studies that show that depressive symptoms get worse during the menopause transition, and about 40% of women report feeling depressed at midlife.
Most people report only minor symptoms that are annoying, but don’t get in the way of them functioning. Some women, however, report serious depressive symptoms. About 20% of women experience a major depressive episode during their lifetime and of those, 50-75% of women will have one or more additional episodes.
If you’ve been diagnosed with depression during your life, you have a 50% chance of having a depressive episode during menopause. Additionally, if you had postpartum depression (PPD), have experienced mood swings, or have had mood issues right before your period, you are more likely to have depression now.
What can I do about it?
If your symptoms are minor, you may be able to fix them with some small life changes that can improve your mental health:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Drink lots of water
- Practice mindfulness
- Get plenty of sleep
- Make time for self-care
- Spend time with loved ones
- Spend time on your hobbies and doing the things you love
For lots of people, however, these aren’t enough. If you’re experiencing extreme sadness or a loss of pleasure or interest in things you used to enjoy (anhedonia) most of the day, most of the days, for at least two weeks, you may have clinical depression. If your symptoms are affecting your ability to function at work or in your personal life, you may have clinical depression. But you shouldn’t suffer alone.
Hormone treatments may help in perimenopause. Steadying your hormones may help steady your mood. Reaching out to friends and loved ones may help, as may talking to a doctor or a therapist. A trained professional, well-versed in all of the different treatment options will be able to help you figure out a plan and get you feeling better.