When you think about menopause, one thing that likely does not come to your mind is depression. While there are many things associated with menopause, many people do not realize that it can have a significant affect on a woman’s mental health. Let’s take a greater look at the relationship between menopause and depression.
Can Menopause Cause Depression?
Depression is something that many women can experience when going through menopause or during the years before menopause (called perimenopause). In fact, research has found that the prevalence of depression symptoms in peri- and post-menopausal women are roughly 42%.
Women have higher rates of developing depression to begin with when compared to men. This risk goes up during perimenopause and the first few years of menopause where a woman’s risk of developing depression is believed to double Additionally, women are more likely to develop depressive symptoms during menopause if they have had a major episode of depression in the past.
Why Is Menopause Associated with a Greater Depression Risk?
When exploring why women have a greater risk of developing depression during menopause, the reality is that there are a number of potential causes. For one, menopause and the years immediately preceding it are a time where women experience significant hormonal shifts. This is the cause of many of the physical symptoms such as hot flashes and insomnia. However, hormonal shifts can also have significant affects on a person’s mental health.
Additionally, as noted, menopause is often associated with bouts of insomnia. It is already known that prolonged sleep disturbances lead to a greater likelihood of experiencing mental health issues. Thus, menopause may partially increase the odds of depression through some of the other symptoms it causes.
Finally, it is important to realize that menopause is often viewed as marking a notable transition period in a woman’s life. For this reason, the reality of entering menopause may feel like a significant milestone that may be associated with feelings of sadness despite it being a normal part of your body’s process.
What Do I Do If I Feel Depressed During Menopause?
Dealing with mental health concerns is just as important as addressing aspects of physical health. If you experience feelings of depression, it is important to speak to your physician or a therapist about them. The first step is simply to recognize signs of depression which include the following:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Feeling numb
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Low levels of energy; extreme fatigue
- Significant changes to appetite or weight
- Withdrawing from family and friendships
- Thoughts of death of suicide
If you experience some of these symptoms, it is possible that you are having depressive episodes and should seek out assistance. When addressed, depression during menopause can often be treated quite easily with things like psychotherapy or prescriptions.