Menopause can be a challenging time for a woman handling the symptoms as her body transitions. Menopause can cause a woman to feel more vulnerable and susceptible to depression.
While minor mood changes are considered acceptable as menopausal symptoms, depression is never considered normal. It should always be evaluated and treated by your gynecologist. If symptoms persist, a mental health professional should be consulted.
The most common menopausal symptoms that can compound depression are fluctuating hormones, insomnia and hot flashes. These can contribute to mood disorders and depression.
Women that have a history of depression before menopause should consider being evaluated for depression early on. Women that have a history of depression around or after hormonal changes, like mood swings during triggered by their menstrual cycle or after childbirth, are more susceptible to depression during perimenopause and menopause.
Women that experience hormone fluctuation, hot flashes or insomnia are also more likely to experience depression.
As women move into menopause the ovaries start producing less estrogens and progesterone. The decrease in estrogens may cause mood changes because estrogens interact with chemicals in the brain that affect mood.
Hot flashes are defined as an intense, sudden feeling of warmth usually radiating to the scalp, face, neck and chest. Hot flashes are an uncomfortable side effect of hormone imbalance. This is usually associated with changes in your estrogen levels or the ratio between the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body.
Depending on the intensity of your hot flashes your ability to handle daily activities may be affected.
The hormonal changes which impact sleep the most are night sweats and hot flashes. However the lack of sleep can also cause irritability, tiredness, and an inability to tolerate stress. It can also result in frequent infections, an inability to lose weight, alterated appetite, and decreased productivity.