What Are the Causes?
Whether you are premenopausal, perimenopausal, right in the middle of menopause, or the significant other of someone experiencing these menopause and depression,you have probably asked yourself this question and many more. No one is certain why some women experience depression during menopause. In general, women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of sadness or depression. This is even more so during perimenopause and menopause. But there seems to be no single reason that can be identified.
It does seem that even women who have never had a history of depression, but are approaching menopause may be at increased risk for feelings of sadness and depression, and hormonal imbalances or hormonal changes are at least partly to blame. Depression seems to be more common in the perimenopause period, but can continue into menopause itself.
You may find yourself feeling sad or anxious. Some of the reasons could be increased stress related to changes in your body which can accompany menopause. It is not uncommon for women to feel a loss, not just related to no longer being able to bear children, but also with how our bodies are changing, sometimes on what seems like a daily basis. It is normal to grieve what many woman see as the loss of their youth and desirability. This can carry over into increased frustration when dealing with family or co-workers and with other regularly stressful situations in our daily lives.
For most women the symptoms of menopause and depression are manageable, but feelings of anxiety or depression at any time must never be ignored and should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
Other Risk Factors
Compared to before perimenopause and menopause, a woman is at least 4 times as likely to have symptoms of depression once she begins to experience perimenopause symptoms. Changes in hormone levels are the most significant symptom associated with the onset of menopause and depression, but certainly not the only one.
The risk of developing depression during perimenopause or menopause seems to be greater in women who have hot flashes, but can still be a concern for women who do not have other symptoms. Not surprisingly, the more extreme your symptoms, the more likely the chance you will experience sadness, anxiety, or even depression.
Women who had PMS or were smokers before menopause, seem to be much more likely to have symptoms of depression. Lifestyle plays a role as well. If you do not eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, or have some sort of system in place to help reduce stress in your daily life, you are more likely to have menopause and depression symptoms.