Menopause and Mental Health

Last Editorial Review: 4/15/2008

Midlife is often considered a period of increased risk for depression in women. The drop in estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause can lead to depression, which can include anxiety, fears, and mood swings. Depression during perimenopause and menopause is treated in much the same way as depression that strikes at any other time.

Research shows that other symptoms you're having, such as sleep problems, hot flashes, night sweats, and fatigue cause these feelings of despair. Or it could be a combination of hormone changes and symptoms. But these symptoms also can have causes that are unrelated to menopause. If you are having these symptoms, and they are interfering with your quality of life, it is important to discuss them with your doctor. Talk openly with your doctor about the other things going on in your life that might be adding to your feelings. Other things that could cause depression and/or anxiety during menopause include:

  • Having depression before menopause

  • Feeling negative about menopause and getting older

  • Increased stress

  • Having severe menopausal symptoms

  • Smoking

  • Not being physically active

  • Not being happy in your relationship or not being in a relationship

  • Not having a job

  • Not having enough money

  • Having low self-esteem (how you feel about yourself)

  • Not having the social support you need

  • Feeling disappointed that you can't have children anymore

If you need treatment for these symptoms, you and your doctor can work together to find a treatment that is best for you. If you have mood swings often, here are a few things you can do:

  • Try to get enough sleep and be physically active. Ask your doctor about relaxation exercises you can do.

  • Ask your doctor about therapy or taking an antidepressant. There is proof that this can be helpful.

  • Talk to your friends who are in perimenopause or menopause or go to a support group for women who are going through the same thing as you. You also can get counseling to talk through your problems and fears.

The Federal Government Source for Women's Health Information, US Department of Health and Human Services

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