Depression is one of the signs that a woman is likely to be in the perimenopausal stage of menopause. The perimenopausal stage is the phase that leads up to the menopausal stage. Studies have shown that between 8 and 15 percent of menopausal women forms some sort of depression. I am sure that these figures are low and that there are many more woman than reported because when a person is depressed and they tend to not want to talk about depression or any problem with mood swings.
First lets look at perimenopause.
You ask what is perimenopause? Perimenopause is the stage of life a woman goes through before she goes into menopause. This stage can last 8 to 10 years for some women. Perimenopause is where the woman's reproductive life changes and the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen. Low estrogen is one of the main causes that start the mood swings and depression.
Now lets look at menopause.
Menopause is when the man moves out of the house to the dog house to take shelter, sometimes this also happens during the perimenopausal stage. Just a little laughter. Seriously, menopause is the stage where the female stops having a period for one year or more. This is normal and it tells us that the reproductive years are over. This usually happens in the late 40's to early 50's. During this time a woman body changes and she may start feeling worthlessness, guilt for no reason and many other symptoms.
Depression and self worth.
One of the things that happen during a woman in perimenopause or menopause is that the estrogen levels in the body drop which triggers emotional changes to take place. These emotions are depression, memory loss, anxiety, anger and mood swings. Most women can see the signs of depression and memory loss during perimenopause and can connect these signs to perimenopause and menopause condition.
Because of the way estrogen affects the brain, when women are perimenopausal their estrogen drops and so the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin drop also. When these levels are low as a result of less estrogen in the body, depression can result. This is the reason anti depressants, which stop these neurotransmitters from breaking down, are effective.
Lets look at signs of depression.
- Change in appetite
- Change in sleep patterns
- Loss of energy
- Thoughts of suicide
- Feeling or worthlessness
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disorders
- Cannot make decisions
- Short attention span
Stress can be a major player in depression especially during the perimenopausal and menopausal stages of life. Stress is a powerful tool in the body which can cause the body to do many bad things. Stress can throw the hormones into an unbalanced affair which can cause anxiety and mood swings which can lead to depression. In the case of depression, the body lacks sufficient serotonin, the neurotransmitter necessary to maintain positive mood. Depression medication can help in these cases but first talk to your health care provider. He or she may put you on a antidepressant medication with "Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors" (SSRI).
What can I do about my depression.
First there is medication, talk to your doctor before starting any sort of medications. Antidepressants are a huge help when in this stage of life. Also your physician may talk to you about taking a Hormone Replacement Therapy. Make sure you do your studies on HRT before starting this therapy, there may be some risk involved with HRT therapy.
Second is therapy by a trained professional called a psychologist or psychiatrist. This can be short term or long term depending on your condition. I personally found this to be a huge help in my life. I personally went every other week for a year. But each person is different and you and your therapist can work this out.
Third is to get plenty of exercise and sleep. Exercise can help to increase the levels of serotonin in the body. Even exercising 10 minutes a day can be very beneficial to fighting off depression. Sleep on a regular time table. Poor sleep can worsen depression and can cause sever problems with the body.
And forth, take time out for yourself and also spend time with friends. I found that I did not want to be around others but wanted to go home after work and hide under the covers and watch television. This is one of the worse things you can do. You need to not withdraw and hide at home; you need to spend quality time with positive people in your life. Find a hobby to do, many people with depression find themselves avoiding enjoyable things in life. Force yourself to do things you love even when you have no ambition or energy to do them.