Definition of Menopause Depression
Depression during menopause is a mood disorder characterized by symptoms of persistent sadness, and apathy, as well as physical symptoms, caused by the onset of hormonal changes in menopausal women.
In order to be clinically defined as menopause depression, at least five of these symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
Loss of interest in activities
Loss of appetite
Loss of energy
Low self esteem
Menopause depression can affect women socially, psychologically and physically. Symptoms of menopause depression include sadness, low self worth, and feelings of dread. Some women may fall into isolation as menopause depression sets in, often worsening the depression itself.
Those who suffer from depression generally experience an extreme lack of energy, even to the point of feeling severe exhaustion. Overly pessimistic thoughts, high anxiety, and anger can cause women to avoid activities that were once enjoyable. Physical symptoms may include headaches, abdominal pain, digestive problems, weight gain, appetite changes and sleeplessness. Before, during and after menopause, paranoia may appear.
What Causes Depression at Menopause?
As with most of the symptoms of menopause, hormone imbalances are largely to blame for menopausal depression. As estrogen levels decrease, the body finds it difficult to maintain the balance of neurochemicals and stress hormones that affect mood regulation, such as serotonin and cortisol. The decline of vital hormones that occurs during menopause can lead to the chemical imbalances that contribute to clinical depression.
Additionally, the stress of other menopause symptoms such as mood swings, night sweats, insomnia and anxiety can all contribute to the development of depression in menopausal women. Stressful life changes that come with age, such as infertility and Empty Nest Syndrome, can also add to the burden of post menopause depression. Those who have suffered from depression before approaching menopause should consult their physicians or psychotherapists before taking medications or supplements.
Depression Treatment Options
Menopause depression can be treated by a variety of means. While hormone replacement therapy is often prescribed for menopausal depression, the risks of cancer, heart disease and stroke associated with the therapy often lead women to seek out safer options. Some physicians will prescribe anti-depressants to help women cope with menopause-initiated chemical imbalances. While effective for some women, many psychiatric medications also come with side effects that can complicate life during menopause.
Risks Associated With Depression
At its most severe, menopause depression can lead to suicidal ideation. Depression also puts a great deal of strain on relationships, with family and friends. At work, menopause depression may lead to lowered productivity, missed deadlines and extended absences. Depression can also lead to a co-occurring diagnosis of chemical dependency, as women attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
Q: What is the definition of depression?
A: Depression refers to a particular frame of mind that has a negative emotional impact and results in feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Depression is also classified as a clinical disorder that can have more consequences than just sadness or even negative emotion. In order for it to be diagnosed as a clinical disorder, clinical depression results from at least two or more weeks of continuous pessimistic moods that change how a woman feels, including her thoughts and what she does.
Q: Is it normal to experience depression during menopause?
A: Yes it is a normal symptom that occurs during menopause, and often affects about one third of all menopausal women.
It has been proven that women, who are at the menopausal age, are up to four times more likely to experience depression than at any other age in life.