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Menopause Q&A by Dr. Stöppler

My wife suffers from depression, will perimenopause aggravate her mood swings?

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR


The time of transition to menopause, known as perimenopause, has been associated with an increased risk of depression. The symptoms that occur during the menopausal transition, including fatigue, irritability, mood changes, physical symptoms such as hot flashes, and sleep disturbances, overlap with many of the symptoms of depression. There are data to suggest that declining levels of estrogen are related to the depression that may occur during the menopausal transition.

Since your wife already has a history of depression, she may experience symptoms of depression during perimenopause. Because perimenopause does not affect all women in the same way, it is impossible to predict the occurrence or severity of symptoms for a given woman. Fortunately, depression is a treatable condition. There are numerous effective methods for control of depression and other symptoms of perimenopause which can be used singly or in combination. These include hormone therapy, antidepressant medications, and psychotherapy. Stress management techniques, exercise, and social support networks can also be of benefit in managing depression and other symptoms of menopause.

Thank you for your question.

REFERENCE: UpToDate. Patient information: Menopause (Beyond the Basics).

Last Editorial Review: 6/4/2014

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