Women Often Experience Depression and Anxiety in Years Leading Up To Menopause

Onset of Menopause creates many changes that can lead to mood disorders

Amin HSDAYTON, Ohio (February 15, 2016) – The years leading up to menopause unleash a myriad of changes in a woman’s body including hormone fluctuations, sleep disturbances, infertility, and for many, depression.

An estimated 6,000 women in the United States reach menopause every day – or over 2 million every year, according to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Off Site Icon . Menopause is a significant time in a woman’s life because it signals the point in time when her body no longer produces estrogen. 

This change, however, is marked with symptoms that occur for years prior to menopause during a period known as perimenopause. It’s during perimenopause that a woman begins to notice a change in her body both physically and emotionally, says Mansi Amin, DO, an internal medicine physician with Oakwood Primary Care.

“There are a lot of things happening to a woman during perimenopause,” says Dr. Amin, who practices with Premier HealthNet. “Most importantly, there are hormonal changes that can cause a lot of symptoms such as acne, weight gain and insomnia. All of these things combined can lead a woman to feel depressed and anxious.”

According to NAMS, symptoms of anxiety – tension, nervousness, panic and worry – are more frequently reported in women during perimenopause than before it. Some of this may be due to the fact that perimenopause causes a woman to contemplate things such as her mortality, her purpose and the direction her life has taken including the presence or absence of children, the NAMS says.

It may also be due to a real physiological change in a woman’s body, Dr. Amin says.

“Fluctuating estrogen levels in a woman’s body can cause changes in norepinephrine and serotonin, both hormones in a woman’s brain that cause anxiety or depression,” she says. “It can be very disconcerting especially when a woman can’t explain these symptoms because there is nothing going on in their lives to explain why they are anxious or depressed.”

Dr. Amin encourages women to take the following steps to address any new episodes of depression or anxiety during her perimenopausal years. 

Talk to your healthcare provider – First address your depression and anxiety with your doctor or advanced practice provider. They will be able to determine if the depression you are feeling is related to your perimenopause or the cause of some other health issue. If all other causes for your symptoms are ruled out, then your healthcare provider will be able to help you determine the next best step.

Step back and evaluate – Hormone fluctuations may directly or indirectly cause mood changes in a woman so take a moment to step back and evaluate your life circumstances. Many women walking through perimenopause are doing so when other life stressors – such as raising teenagers or caring for older parents – may just be setting in. Identifying the root source can help determine what type of help is required.

Seek support from women – It’s never easy to walk through a life change alone. Support from other women helps validate feelings and creates a sounding board from which solutions can be solved. Consider gathering together women in your own stage of life to meet for coffee or dinner on a monthly basis.

Stay physically active – Regular physical activity is not only good for your body, but also for your mind. Set aside time each day to take a walk, hit the gym, or engage in a social group training session. 

Postpone important decisions – The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Off Site Icon  suggests that those who experience mild depression put off making important life decisions until the depression has lifted. Don’t make decisions about a profession or relationship during a time of depression.

Have realistic expectations – The NIMH says that depression relief is often gradual; therefore, women should not expect depression to be lifted overnight.

For more information on menopause and mood disorders or to find a Premier HealthNet healthcare provider near you, visit www.premierhealthnet.com/doctor.

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