Menopause and depression: how are they connected?
Although most women transition to menopause without experiencing psychiatric disorders, an estimated 20% suffer from mood swings and depression at some point during menopause.
There is a well-established connection between changes of various hormonal systems and psychiatric health issues, both in psychiatric and endocrine patients. The transition into perimenopause and menopause may be a tempestuous experience for some women. Modifications in hormone levels may impact neurotransmitters in the brain.
The reduction in estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, like vaginal dryness, irregular periods, hot flashes and disturbed sleep. These causes menopausal and perimenopausal depression symptoms like low mood, anxiety, irritability, fears, and mood swings. Menopause mood swings can wreak havoc on your psyche. The irritability caused due to menopause depression may also result in difficulty in concentrating and memory lapses.
Women who had severe premenstrual syndrome in their younger years may experience severe, sharp and inexplicable changes in mood during perimenopause. Also, females with a history of clinical anxiety and depression seem to be particularly vulnerable to recurring clinical depression during menopausal months or even years before actual menopause.
Women transitioning to menopause are found to suffer more depression with the following states:
- Dismissive and pessimistic mood before menopause
- Interpersonal stress
- Little or no exercise
- Hatred towards partner
- Poor self-perceived health
Other stressors that correspond with menopausal symptoms are postulated to show association with depression include the following:
- Taking care of old parents
- The onset of any sickness in others or self
- Alteration in employment