Menopause and Depression

Menopause and depression can cause some women to experience mood swings, crying spells, and irritability during the menopausal years. 

Hot flashes and insomnia

While all of us can be irritable at times, most of us will navigate our way through menopause just fine. 

In fact, most women that experience menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 report that the "menopause years" are the best years of their lives. 

However, some women are highly sensitive to the hormonal changes and are in for a bumpy ride. Hot flashes and insomnia have been known to leave more than a few women moody and depressed. 

Menopause and Depression

Treating hot flashes and mood swings that affect depression

Your depression could be caused by an undiagnosed thyroid problem or side effects due to medication. 

Just like cancer and diabetes, depression is a genuine disease that can have a huge impact on your body. Women are about twice as likely to develop depression than men. 

Traumatic life experiences and painful events of midlife can leave your body's stress response in over-drive. 

Hormones at midlife

Hormone fluctuations make it harder for parts of the brain involved in controlling emotions to communicate with one another. 

Basic emotions like irritability and anxiety can more easily slip pass your brain regulators, making you more vulnerable to depression. 

Estrogen may act as one of natures antidepressants relieving symptoms of menopause and depression. 

Estrogen helps with brain signaling and regulating systems to work more efficiently. 

Estrogen may also help protect against the kind of cell death brought on by stress and aging. 

Estrogen as an antidepressant for Menopause and Depression

A doctor might prescribe estrogen as an alternative or additional treatment for perimenopausal women when other antidepressants prove ineffective or only partially effective. 

Also, if you're suffering from moderate to severe hot flashes and if your mood problems are relatively mild, bioidentical hormone treatment might be suggested by your doctor before adding antidepressants. 

Can hot flashes affect my mood and make me depressed?

It makes sense that hot flashes at night would have a terrible effect on your mood. 

Research has shown that a lot of perimenopausal women experience hot flashes, sleep problems, and depression all at once. Perimenopausal women are four times as likely to become depressed as those who never flash. 

This seems to be true only when you're menopausal. During peri menopause, estrogen levels are at their most erratic. Fluctuating hormone levels reduce the availability of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Serotonin levels have an effect on mood and regulating temperature. 

Hormones and mood problems

Hormones aren't always involved when you experience mood problems. Mood disorders can be side effects of medications such as oral contraceptives, tranquilizers, some types of heart drugs, and diet pills. 

Symptoms of depression can also be associated with an underactive thyroid and many serious illnesses. 

Mood can be affected by many things such as personal traumas, stress at home or in the office, cultural attitudes toward aging, or a combination of all these things. 

Sleeplessness can have a big impact on mood, and sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea become more common in women at midlife. 

Using antidepressants for hot flash relief

It is a common practice and not necessarily unsafe to use antidepressants to relieve hot flashes. 

Some doctors may want their patients to try oral contraceptives first if they're perimenopausal or hormone therapy if they're postmenopausal. 

If you're interested in trying either hormones or an antidepressant for your situation, talk to your doctor about the potential side effects, benefits, and risks for someone like you. 

If your symptoms of menopause and depression are mild, be sure to consider the non-drug alternatives as well. 

› Menopause and Depression

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