Depression and Menopause

Midlife is considered a time of increased risk for depression in women, and statistics say that twice as many woman are affected by depression than men. This can be related to a personal or family history of depression, but menopause is considered to be a period when women can become depressed and studies have shown this to be the case. Menopause is a gradual decline in estrogen levels that can be associated with the onset of depression.

Numerous symptoms of general menopause overlap with symptoms of depression such as:

  • change in appetite
  • decreased interest or pleasure in activities
  • lost sex drive
  • change in sleep patterns
  • thoughts of suicide
  • loss of energy or fatigue
  • concentration difficulties
  • irritability
  • anxiety

Because they think these problems are a natural part of aging, it is common for women to not speak out about their symptoms. Depression should never be ignored as a normal consequence of the aging process.

Untreated depression can turn into more severe depression and physical complications such as an increased risk or heart attacks. Studies have revealed that depression can also lead to loss of bone mineral density meaning that there is an increase risk or fractured bones. Again this can be misdiagnosed as lowered FSH levels in menopause.

Knowing that depression is treatable is very positive for one suffering from it as part of the hopelessness is believing that depression is incurable. Thinking this way is a symptom of depression although it too will improve with treatment. Many treatment options for depression are available.

There are many effective, antidepressant medications available and these are an essential part of treatment for women who are moderately to severely depressed.

It is thought that oestrogen helps with depression in the early stages of menopause. Even though hormone replacement therapy appears to be a possible useful antidepressant, it has not yet been well established so other methods should be explored first.

Request a physical examination from your doctor so as to rule out any physical illness that may be causing you to be depressed. You are more likely to develop such physical illness as you get older. Also, it should be remembered that certain medications can mimic depression so all medication should be reviewed with your doctor.

Another form of treatment is of course, therapy with a trained psychologist, psychiatrist or other trained professional on a short or long term basis. This form of treatment can be effective for depression.