Menopausal depression is a depression that occurs during menopause transition. Women that are particularly at risk from getting depressed during this period are those women that have had a prior tendency toward depression.
What is menopause transition?
A woman’s life can be divided into four stages or periods. Four stages of woman’s life are premenstruation, premenopause, perimenopause and postmenopause. The core of three out of four of these stages is one event called menopause.
Premenstruation is a period that last from birth until the first menstruation.
Premenopause (before menopause) refers to a period of woman’s life from her first menstruation to her last regular menstruation.
Perimenopause (around menopause) is the transitional stage between premenopause and menopause, a period in women’s life during which menstruation begins to gradually cease. This stage can last from two to ten years and it typically occurs between 40 and 55 years of age.
Menopause (climacterium, change of life, climacteric) is best describe as an event, even though some would argue that it is the period of life for women during which reproductive capacity declines and finally ceases. For better understanding of this matter, we will say that menopause refers to a decline in reproduction abilities due to the hormonal changes that cease menstruation.
Therefore, menopause is an event that represents the permanent cessation of a woman’s menstrual period (after which she will never have another menstrual cycle). The period during which reproductive capacity declines is perimenopause and it is this period that is important when discussing menopausal depression. Postmenopause is the stage of woman’s life that starts right after the event of menopause has occurred.
Menopausal Depression Causes:
The exact menopausal depression causes are not known, however, one of the main causes of menopausal depression is suspected to be the hormonal change that occurs in woman’s body during the period of perimenopause.
During perimenopause, the production of hormone estrogen gradually decreases. In the last year of this period the decrease in production of estrogen is rapid which deepens hormonal misbalances and can contribute to onset of menopausal depression.
Symptoms of Menopausal Depression
• Hot flashes
• Mood swings
• Poor concentration
• Appetite change
• Anger, irritation
Menopausal Depression Treatment
Physical examination: First thing you should do if you suspect you might suffer from menopausal depression is to do a complete physical examination.
That is the starting point of your treatment.
Psychotherapy is an essential part of menopausal depression. All women go through a hormonal misbalance during their perimenopause period however, not all of them become depressed.
This means that the hormonal change is not the sole cause of menopausal depression, but that there are also cognitive and emotional causes as well.
Psychotherapy provides you with the coping tools, education and most importantly gives you support in facing your depression. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a hormonal therapy that reduces depression symptoms, however, some researches are saying that this therapy, if used for longer periods of time, may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Antidepressants can be used for treating menopausal depression, however, only for severe and some moderate cases. They can help in reducing a patient’s symptoms thus enabling her to participate in psychotherapy.
If you have substance abuse problems, they must be properly addressed. Alcohol and depression are like gasoline and fire. These two should never be mixed. When depressed, even the smallest amount of alcohol in your body is too much. If you have decided to face and confront your depression, you must say no to alcohol and other illegal substances.
Physical exercise, healthy foods and time to relax should be a part of your therapy. Menopause is also called a "change of life", which means you need to keep up with your life and change accordingly. It is time for you to invest more in yourself and take care of yourself in the best way you can. Leave menopausal depression behind by making positive changes in your life.