Can Menopause Cause Depression
Your body goes through a lot of changes during menopause. There are extreme shifts in your hormone levels, you may not be sleeping well because of hot flashes and you may be experiencing mood swings. Anxiety and fear could also be at play during this time. All of these factors can lead to depression.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of depression, talk to your healthcare provider. During your conversation, your provider will tell you about different types of treatment and check to make sure there isnt another medical condition causing your depression. Thyroid problems can sometimes be the cause of depression.
Mental Health Issues Associated With Menopause
Mood swings are another common symptom of menopause. Low estrogen levels can lead to irritability, anxiety, and depression. Your moods can change quickly and vary greatly, from laughing to crying within minutes.
How are estrogen levels connected to your mood? Some studies point to the mood-enhancing effects of the hormone, which implies that lower levels of it may lead to feelings of depression. In fact, one study showed that women are two to four times more likely to experience a major depressive episode during menopause than at other times in their lives.
Menopause and low estrogen levels may also exacerbate existing mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
In addition to changing estrogen levels, sleepless nights can also contribute to mood changes. Night sweats, hot flashes, and heart palpitations at night can leave you feeling cranky, anxious, and irritable during the day.
What Causes The Menopause
The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.
It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
Premature or early menopause can occur at any age, and in many cases there’s no clear cause.
Sometimes it’s caused by a treatment such as surgery to remove the ovaries , some breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or it can be brought on by an underlying condition, such as Down’s syndrome or Addison’s disease.
Page last reviewed: 29 August 2018 Next review due: 29 August 2021
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Menopause: Changes And Challenges
Alta Bates Summit Medical CenterBerkeley, California
US Pharm. 2018 43:13-16.
Menopause is the cessation of menstruation in a woman, typically occurring between the ages of 45 and 55 years. Smokers and women with chronic diseases may experience earlier menopause.1 This is a natural biological process, not a disease.
Menopause and perimenopausethe period of transition beginning 2 to 8 years before and lasting up to 1 year after a womans final menstrual periodoccur because as women get older, the ovaries begin to shut down.1 Eventually, ovaries stop producing estrogen and other hormones. Since the body has depended on these hormones for years, when hormone levels decrease, the changes are noticeable and may result in emotional reactions and bodily changes.2 These may include physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, decreased energy levels, and sleep disruption, as well as mood-related symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. Over time, these symptoms gradually disappear.1 Although menopause ends fertility, women can stay healthy, vital, and sexual. This article will briefly review the physiology and types of menopause, signs and symptoms, and symptomatic treatment.
How Do I Know If Changes In My Periods Are Normal Perimenopausal Symptoms Or Something To Be Concerned About
Irregular periods are common and normal during perimenopause . But other conditions can cause abnormalities in menstrual bleeding. If any of the following situations apply to you, see a doctor to rule out other causes.
- Your periods are changing to become very heavy, or accompanied by blood clots.
- Your periods last several days longer than usual.
- You spot or bleed after your period.
- You experience spotting after sex.
- Your periods occur closer together.
Potential causes of abnormal bleeding include hormonal imbalances, hormonal treatments, pregnancy, fibroids, blood-clotting problems or, rarely, cancer.
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How Does Menopause Affect My Bladder Control
Unfortunately, bladder control issues are common for women going through menopause. There are several reasons why this happens, including:
- Estrogen. This hormone plays several roles in your body. It not only controls your period and promotes changes in your body during pregnancy, estrogen also keeps the lining of your bladder and urethra healthy.
- Pelvic floor muscles. Supporting the organs in your pelvis your bladder and uterus are called the pelvic floor muscles. Throughout your life, these muscles can weaken. This can happen during pregnancy, childbirth and from weight gain. When the muscles weaken, you can experience urinary incontinence .
Specific bladder control problems that you might have can include:
- Stress incontinence .
- Urge incontinence .
- Painful urination .
- Nocturia .
Nancy Believes The Stress Of Working While Caring For Three Children And Her Mother May Have
Several women had become increasingly responsible for the well-being of older parents and in-laws. Instead of being free to pursue their own goals in later life they may have to juggle between generations, help with grandchildren, and be weighed down by a reversal in roles as parents become more dependent on their support and practical help. As part of the sandwich generation, some women felt they were being pulled in different directions, unable to please everybody, and some also felt guilty.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Menopause
You may be transitioning into menopause if you begin experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes .
- Night sweats and/or cold flashes.
These symptoms can be a sign that the ovaries are producing less estrogen, or a sign of increased fluctuation in hormone levels. Not all women get all of these symptoms. However, women affected with new symptoms of racing heart, urinary changes, headaches, or other new medical problems should see a doctor to make sure there is no other cause for these symptoms.
How Does Menopause Affect My Bone Health
The decline in estrogen production can affect the amount of calcium in your bones. This can cause significant decreases in bone density, leading to a condition known as osteoporosis. It can also make you more susceptible to hip, spine, and other bone fractures. Many women experience accelerated bone loss the first few years after their last menstrual period.
To keep your bones healthy:
- Eat foods with lots of calcium, such as dairy products or dark leafy greens.
- Take vitamin D supplements.
- Exercise regularly and include weight training in your exercise routine.
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
- Avoid smoking.
There are prescription medications you may want to discuss with your doctor to prevent bone loss as well.
The 34 Symptoms Of Menopause
The average age of menopause is 51. Menopause refers to a period in a womans life when she stops having a menstrual period. Many people think that a woman stops having her period overnight when in reality, menopause is a process that can last for years.
The period leading up to menopause is known as perimenopause. Most women begin perimenopause in their 40s. Some women may experience so few symptoms that they do not realize they have entered perimenopause . However, for others, symptoms can be severe and life-altering.
There are a total of 34 symptoms that can signify the arrival of menopause, which range from mild to disabling in nature.
When To See A Doctor
A woman should speak to her doctor whenever perimenopause or menopause is having a significant impact on her day-to-day activities, including sexual activity.
Sometimes, a doctor can recommend changes in health habits as well as discuss whether prescription medications may help relieve the symptoms, including a low libido.
Speaking with a doctor can also rule out any other underlying medical conditions that may cause a reduced libido. These conditions include urinary tract infections, uterine prolapse, endometriosis, or pelvic floor dysfunction.
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Learn More About Womens Health
Now that you know what happens when a woman goes through menopause, you can better prepare for the changes that will happen with your body. You can also increase your understanding of other women who may be going through the same ordeal.
But dealing with menopause is only one of the many health challenges women face. We invite you to read our other articles and expand your knowledge of womens health. We discuss topics that will help you experience a healthier and happier life.
Health Changes And Mood Disturbances
Changes in your physical health at the time of menopause may also drive mood changes. For example, anxiety may be triggered by an overactive thyroid gland, which becomes more common with age. In addition, anxiety and depression may be triggered by a lack of sleep, which also becomes more common at the time of menopause, as hormone shifts cause nighttime hot flashes or other sleep disruptions that make it more difficult for women to get the rest they need.
So, what can you do to protect your mental health as you go through menopause?
Be aware that mood changes may accompany other menopausal symptoms.
Monitor your mood and make note of patterns in other factors such as sleep and stress levels. Seek professional help if symptoms become severe and interfere with daily life.
Make lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise, getting adequate sleep, and controlling stress to reduce potential symptoms.
Reach out to others. Don’t struggle alone.
Oestrogen Tablets And Sexual Function
Oestrogen tablets can cause testosterone in your blood to become less biologically active and so affect your sex life. If your doctor thinks this might be the case, they can try switching you to an oestrogen gel or patch. This can help testosterone in your blood to become more active and improve sexual function.
How Can Symptoms Be Handled
Being informed about what may happen during the menopause transition is a very good starting point.
Women are encouraged to pay attention to their health, including quitting smoking, eating well, exercising regularly and incorporating some relaxation techniques. Self-management strategies such as carrying a fan, dressing in layers, always having a cool drink and a facial water spray can be helpful. Avoiding spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol will also reduce flushing.
Some women may find relief from menopausal symptoms with herbal or alternative remedies, however most have not been studied or shown to be of benefit scientifically and some, like black cohosh, have been occasionally linked to serious side effects. Bioidentical hormones mixtures of hormones supplied by compounding chemists may be touted as beneficial and more natural than menopause hormone replacement therapy but there is inadequate evidence for their safety and effectiveness .
Doctors may prescribe other drugs to relieve symptoms, such as anti-depressants , gabapentin, and clonidine. .
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Symptoms Of The Menopause
Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of these can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities.
Common symptoms include:
- reduced sex drive
- problems with memory and concentration
Menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around 4 years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer.
What Does Menopause Do To A Womans Body
Menopause has different ways of affecting a womans body depending on the body type and health. Most of the women are not generally aware of all the things related to menopause. Therefore, we have here brought you the list of the top things that you should know about menopause. Scroll down below to check them all out.
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Contraception In The Peri
A womans fertility declines naturally in her 40s and the risk of pregnancy after the age of 50 years is estimated at less than one per cent but women may ovulate twice in a cycle and as late as three months before the final period. Women are advised to keep using contraception until two years after their last period if they experience the menopause under the age of 50, and for one year after the last period if aged 50 years or more2. Women using combined oral contraception are generally advised to cease by the age of 51 years and switch to a non-hormonal or progestogen-only method. The risks of ethinyl oestradiol-containing methods increase with age, especially if the woman is a smoker over the age of 35 .
Healthy Diet And Menopause
Suggestions for maintaining good health through diet at the time of menopause include:
- Choose a wide variety of foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, cereals, whole grains and small portions of lean meat, fish or chicken.
- Increase fluids and eat low-fat dairy foods with high calcium content.
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Home Remedies: Vitamin E Black Cohosh And Herbs
Some women report that vitamin Esupplements can provide relief from mild hot flashes, but scientific studies are lacking to prove the effectiveness of vitamin E in relieving symptoms of menopause. Taking a dosage greater than 400 international units of vitamin E may not be safe, since some studies have suggested that greater dosages may be associated with cardiovascular disease risk.
Other alternative therapies for menopause symptoms
There are many supplements and substances that have been advertised as “natural” treatments for symptoms of menopause, including licorice, dong Quai, chaste berry, and wild yam. Scientific studies have not proven the safety or effectiveness of these products.
Oral Contraceptives And Vaginal Treatments
Oral contraceptive pills
Oral contraceptive pills are another form of hormone therapy often prescribed for women in perimenopause to treat irregular vaginal bleeding. Women in the menopausal transition tend to have considerable breakthrough bleeding when given estrogen therapy. Therefore, oral contraceptives are often given to women in the menopause transition to regulate menstrual periods, relieve hot flashes, as well as to provide contraception. They are not recommended for women who have already reached menopause, because the dose of estrogen is higher than that needed to control hot flashes and other symptoms. The contraindications for oral contraceptives in women going through the menopause transition are the same as those for premenopausal women.
Local hormone and non-hormone treatments
There are also local hormonal treatments for the symptoms of vaginal estrogen deficiency. Local treatments include the vaginal estrogen ring , vaginal estrogen cream, or vaginal estrogen tablets. Local and oral estrogen treatments are sometimes combined for this purpose.
Vaginal moisturizing agents such as creams or lotions as well as the use of lubricants during intercourse are non-hormonal options for managing the discomfort of vaginal dryness.
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What Happens When A Woman Goes Through Menopause
In understanding what happens when a woman goes through menopause, it is essential to look at the early signs of menopause. And when we talk about the early signs, they can start to appear several years before you officially hit your menopausal phase.
The beginnings of menopause happen when you hit your late 30s. This is the time when your ovaries start to produce less progesterone and estrogen. These are the two hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle.
Hence, they play crucial roles in fertility and pregnancy.
Once your body produces less of these hormones, it signals the start of menopause. However, it is important to note that other factors also contribute to the onset of menopause.
For example, women who experienced premature ovarian failure or hysterectomy may enter menopause earlier than other women. The same thing goes if you are going through chemotherapy.
Also, you need to look deeper into the menopausal transition or perimenopause. This transition usually happens between 45 and 55 years. It can last for about seven years but can extend for up to 14 years.
Mental Health And The Menopause
Helen, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at our Talking Health service, spoke openly to local freelance journalist Fran McElhone about mental health and the menopause:
A Devon mental health practitioner has spoken candidly about the impact the menopause had on her own mental health.
Helen from North Devon is a psychological wellbeing practitioner for the Devon NHS Partnership Trust and works with patients with long term physical health conditions who may also be experiencing a mental health problem like anxiety and depression.
The 57-year-old says the menopause took its toll on her own mental wellbeing at times and agreed to share her experiences in the hope of raising awareness about the link between the menopause and mental health.
The menopause can impact on a womans health both physically and psychologically, primarily due to the depletion of the hormone oestrogen in the body. In addition to hot flushes, the sweats and tiredness, heavy bleeding and vaginal dryness, some women also experience emotional and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, poor concentration and low self-esteem, which can often be mistaken for depression.
I found it very difficult at times, says Helen. There were occasions I thought I was losing my mind. I was exhausted all the time and couldnt order my thoughts and I had pain throughout my body and aches in my joints.
Trouble Focusing And Learning
In the lead-up to menopause two-thirds of women may have difficulty with concentration and memory.
Keeping physically and mentally active, following a healthful diet, and maintaining an active social life can help with these issues. For example, some people benefit from finding a new hobby or joining a club or a local activity.