As women approach midlife and menopause one of the things to be on the lookout for is depression. While menopause is not thought to be a cause of depression the two can occur at the same time. What is believed to be a cause of depression is changes in estrogen levels which occur during menopause. It is known that women are affected by depression over twice as much as men and that a family history of depression can factor into this as well.
The symptoms of depression and menopause are very similar and include sleep disorders, hot flashes, fatigue, anxiety, and irritability. Many women associate these symptoms with the changes that menopause brings, but they may be a sign of depression that needs to be understood and dealt with. There is no reason women need to suffer from depression during menopause. It is important that they accept the physical changes happening to their bodies during this time and work with their doctor to mitigate the symptoms of menopause, but it is also important that they realize that depression and menopause can be mutually exclusive and both can be dealt with.
As women approach menopause their menstrual cycles begin to change and start to become unpredictable. This unpredictability of their monthly cycle is a sign of erratic ovulation. Erratic ovulation causes unpredictable releases of the hormones estrogen and progesterone leading to mood swings, forgetfulness, hot flashes, and all the other symptoms associated with menopause.
Most women going through menopause feel that they are losing control of their bodies when in fact it is just their natural reaction to the aging process. This feeling of loss of control can lead to symptoms of depression. As the symptoms of both menopause and depression worsen they start to feel that there is nothing they can do and a feeling of hopelessness falls over them. This feeling of hopelessness is a major part of depression and left untreated can lead to severe depression.
Untreated depression is a major health risk. Researchers have found that depression is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and in some cases, it can lead to bone deterioration increasing the likelihood of osteoporosis and broken bones.
The treatment for depression and menopause can follow a two-pronged approach. It is important to treat not only the depression with antidepressant medications and counseling but also to treat the symptoms of menopause as well. Menopause can be treated with hormone replacement therapy where synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone are used to even out the woman’s hormone levels.
If you are a woman approaching midlife and menopause be aware that depression can be a very real side effect of the changes that will happen to you. If you start to see the symptoms of depression it is best to talk to your doctor about what treatment options may work best for you.