The time in a person’s life, lovingly referred to as “midlife” is often considered a period of increased risk for depression especially in women. Many women report irritability, mood swings, anxiety, tearfulness, and feelings of loss, inadequacy and/or despair in the years leading up to menopause. The main reason for these emotional problems isn’t always understood. Research has shown repeatedly that menopausal symptoms such as sleep problems or disorders; hot flashes, night sweats, and fatigue can affect health, well –being and mood. The fluctuation in estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause may affect mood, or it may be the combination of >hormone changes and menopausal symptoms.
However, mood swings also can have causes that are not related to menopause. If the quality of your life is being affected by emotional problems, now may be the time to discuss them with your doctor. In speaking with your physician, you need to talk openly about any thing else in your life that might increase emotional problems. Situations or events that increase your risk of depression and/or anxiety during menopause include:
- Having depression before menopause
- Feeling negative about menopause and getting older
- Increased stress
- Having severe menopausal symptoms
- 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
Many of these symptoms can be serious and you may need treatment. Be sure you talk to your physician so that you can work together to find a treatment that is best for you. Depression during perimenopause and menopause is treated in pretty much the same way as depression that happens at any other time in life. If any of these symptoms is affecting your quality of life, here are a few things you can do:
- Try to get enough sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. Keep you room cool and dark. Use your bed only for sleeping and sex. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, large meals, or physical activity before bed.
- Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Set limits for yourself, and look for positive ways to unwind and ease daily stress. Try relaxation techniques, reading a book, or spending some quiet time outdoors.
- 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.
Ask your doctor about therapy or medicines. Menopausal hormone therapy can reduce symptoms that might be causing your moodiness. Antidepressants might also help