The average age of menopause in the United States is 51, and more than one million women reach menopause each year. However, the transition from menstruation to menopause can take four to eight years. That time is known as perimenopause, and it’s when you experience the symptoms associated with menopause.
At Progressive Women’s Health, Dr. Asia Mohsin understands the difficulties of living with the symptoms of menopause while living your life. If you’re concerned about physical or mental symptoms, consider seeing her for a consultation. There may be treatments available to help.
You’re probably already aware of the physical symptoms of menopause, which include:
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Changes to your menstrual flow
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Sexual dysfunction
- Increased risk for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease
You may not be aware that there can be mental health symptoms associated with menopause, as well. For example, you may experience:
- Feelings of guilt
- Lack of interest in things you enjoy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Feelings of fatigue
- Appetite changes
Not every woman experiences mental health symptoms related to menopause, and though researchers have investigated “perimenopausal depressive syndrome,” there aren’t conclusive findings. Instead, scientists and physicians have found that some women are at a greater risk of mental health problems related to menopause than others.
There are several things that may make it more likely you’ll experience mental health symptoms during perimenopause. For example, if you’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression in the past or had episodes of depression, you may be at a higher risk of experiencing depression during perimenopause than someone who hasn’t.
If you have negative feelings about menopause or aging, you may also have a greater risk of developing a mood disorder. Low self-esteem, a stressful life situation, lack of exercise, and smoking are also risk factors.
Theories regarding depression during menopause
The extreme fluctuations in your hormones during menopause may make some women more vulnerable to mood disorders. Some research seems to indicate that sudden changes in hormone levels can have an impact on the neurotransmitters in your brain, which could certainly explain an association between depression and menopause.
Another potential explanation is more straightforward. If you’re not sleeping well because of night sweats or insomnia, you’re likely to have mood disruptions. Physical symptoms may well lead to mental health symptoms.
There are lifestyle interventions that may be helpful. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, practicing relaxation techniques, and support groups are low-cost changes that can make a big difference and have the added benefit of contributing to your overall good health.
Sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough. If your mental health symptoms are severe, Dr. Mohsin may suggest other treatments. Hormone replacement therapy may be an option, or there may be another appropriate pharmaceutical approach.
The best treatment plan for you is based on your specific situation. Before suggesting a treatment approach, Dr. Mohsin evaluates your symptoms, medical history, goals, and needs.
If you’d like to learn more about mental health and menopause, book an appointment at Progressive Women’s Health. You can request an appointment online or call our office between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday at 281-993-4072.