Although menopause does not directly cause depression, there is a high correlation between the two. Medical practitioners currently believe that 8 to 15 percent of menopausal women will likely experience depression at some point during their time in menopause. Since older individuals are also more likely to develop depression, the increased risk could be attributed to age and lifestyle factors as well.
The Symptoms of Menopause
Women who are currently experiencing menopause have to deal with a range of symptoms including hot flashes, sadness and headaches. Since the mind is more likely to develop depression during times of stress, menopausal women have increased chances of undergoing bouts of depression. Managing the symptoms of menopause can be difficult enough on its own. To make matters worse, menopause occurs at a time of life when women are more likely to be dealing with empty nest syndrome, the loss of a spouse or job relocation. When taken as a whole, conditions are ripe for women to experience depression.
Scientists have notices that women in menopause experience a change in their estrogen, androgen and progesterone levels. These constant fluctuations in the body’s chemistry can impact the mood centers of the brain. As a result, women may have increased episodes of hopelessness, sadness and melancholy. Over time, the increased negativity may lead to depression.
Risk Factors for Menopausal Women
Women who have been depressed before are more likely to experience depression during menopause. If menopause developed as a result of a surgery, the patient also faces increased risks of depression or mental disorders. Women who smoke, are under constant stress or take care of young children are more likely to develop depression. Any surgery or life event can mess with how the mind functions and cause estrogen levels in the body to drop. When all of these factors are combined, a menopausal or post-menopausal woman faces an increased risk of developing depression when compared with the normal population.
Luckily, depression is completely treatable. Women can take a range of antidepressants or use group therapy to lessen the symptoms of depression. Since menopause can often cause depression, women may be able to improve their mental disorder by starting a course of estrogen therapy. Since depression can be caused by the drop in estrogen levels, the addition of estrogen in the body can impact the mood positively and lessen the symptoms of depression. Roughly 80 percent of women who started taking estrogen reported that their mood brightened. Although menopausal women face increased risks of depression, the disorder is completely curable if they seek proper medical treatment.