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Depression is a common yet potentially serious symptom of menopause. It entails more than the occasional bout of sadness and, if not treated, can lead to more severe mental disorders and a lessened quality of life.
Women are especially susceptible to depression and when approaching menopause are even more so. Women ages 45 to 55 are four times more likely to have depression than women who have not yet reached that stage in life.
The main reason women, especially menopausal women, are more likely to suffer from depression is because of their hormonal imbalance. Continue reading to learn all about depression, its signs and symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
The general use of the term depression refers to a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy, feelings of sadness, and a despondent lack of activity.
But because depression is a clinical mental disorder, it's important to distinguish feelings of sadness and despondency from clinical depression.
Clinical depression is more severe than brief periods of sadness. It is a serious mental illness characterized by more than two weeks of extremely low moods that affect how a person feels, thinks, and acts.
Types of depression
There are six main types of depression. Some are more related to menopause than others. The following are categories of depression closely linked to menopause:
Major depression. Lasts for more than two weeks and is characterized by intense feelings of sadness, loss of interest in normal activities, withdrawal from friends and family, and negative thoughts.
Did You Know?
Untreated depression can lead to a greater risk of heart attacks and osteoporosis.
Dysthymic disorder. Less intense than major depression, but often lasts for longer, normally for two years or more.
Adjustment disorder. Often brought on by a stressful event or situation. It can be acute (lasting less than six months) or chronic (lasting longer).
Risk Factors for Depression:
History of depression
Smoking or quitting smoking
Drug and alcohol use
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A type of depression that is triggered by the seasons and most commonly caused by a lack of sunlight in the winter months.
Other types of depression less associated with menopause, but just as severe, include the following:
Manic depression or bipolar disorder. A brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. Symptoms can be very severe.
Psychotic depression. Includes some features of psychosis, such as hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there) or delusions (irrational thoughts and fears).
Click on the following link to read more about depression, or continue reading below to learn about the signs and symptoms of depression.
Sadness and clinical depression have many similarities, often leading people to be confused about where the line is drawn between the two. This article addresses the question of when it is sadness and when it is clinical depression, describing the differences sadness and the disorder of depression.
It is important to be aware of the common myths about depression. Depression is characterized by persistent feelings of intense sadness, apathy, and helplessness. Talking to a counselor has been known to help lessen depression symptoms. Staying active can also help improve mood and release serotonin and endorphins in the brain.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Because depression is a mental disorder, it's important to pinpoint the symptoms associated with it. The symptoms can be separated into three categories: physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. In order for depression to be diagnosed, at least five symptoms must be present for no less than two weeks, and at least one of those five must either be persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest or pleasure. Here are the other signs and symptoms:
Persistent aches or pains
Headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
Thoughts of suicide/suicide attempts
Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
Difficulty remembering details
Difficulty making decisions
Failing to attend to one's physical appearance
Click on the following link to read more about the signs and symptoms of depression, or continue reading below to learn about the possible causes of depression.
Depression and bipolar disorder are serious psychological conditions, and there are a range of signs and symptoms to alert an individual into realizing they have the conditions. This article gives you hints and tips on what to look out for and how to distinguish the illnesses from one another.
Depression often creeps into lives without warning. Sometimes the symptoms are quiet and subtle, and other times they are raging and obvious. Whether the signs of depression are physical or psychological, it is important to remember you aren't alone. Help is available round the clock.
Causes of Depression
The underlying cause of depression in menopausal women has to do with hormonal imbalance, especially decreased levels of estrogen. As women approach menopause, their estrogen levels begin to drop off. This hormone plays a big part in regulating brain functions, especially chemicals that influence mood, such as serotonin and cortisol. Decreasing levels of estrogen during menopause can also cause other physical and mental symptoms, such as hot flashes and anxiety, which can lead to depression.
Other causes include biochemical, genetic, personality, environmental factors and disease.
Click on the following link to learn more about the causes of depression, or continue reading to find out about all the different treatment options for depression.
Combatting depression can often seem an impossible task, but often the first step is right under our noses. There are many common habits that trigger or worsen depression, and some people find that fixing these is enough to get rid of depression altogether, but they will also complement other therapies for severe depression.
Treatments for Depression
Although depression can make a woman feel hopeless, a variety of treatment options exist that can help wash away her depression and keep her hope alive. It is generally recommended that women begin with the least invasive option, which would be lifestyle changes. In the case of depression, this involves steps such as making sure to get regular exercise, eating healthy, and practicing mind-body techniques such as meditation or yoga.
By simply including three 30 minute-long sessions of physical activity such as walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling into a weekly routine a woman can greatly relieve her milder symptoms of depression.
Similarly, eating healthily will also help to stabilize mood swings and alleviate depression. Lifestyle changes are an important first step to tackling depression, but there are other treatment options available if a woman were to feel that she needs further help in regaining a positive outlook on life.
The most effective approach, as depression in menopausal women is primarily caused by a hormonal imbalance, is to treat the problem directly at the hormonal source. A variety of natural and alternative supplements exist that may be able to address this imbalance.
For more prolonged or severe cases of depression, it may be necessary to seek the advice of a healthcare professional and possibly seek pharmaceutical options, though these carry the most risk of undesirable side effects.
Click on the following link to read more specifics about each of the treatments for depression in order to learn how to alleviate this symptom in a safe and effective way.
Many sufferers of depression want to find a safe and effective solution to their illness, and are happier with the idea of taking natural vitamin supplements rather than synthetic antidepressants. This article considers whether or not vitamins are really a viable solution for treating depression.
Depression is a serious mental illness, and menopausal women are at higher risk of developing it. Genetics, environment, and emotional trauma can accelerate the development of depression. Getting professional help, having a solid support system, and staying active are all helpful ways to overcome pain and depression.
- Boyles, Salynn, and Dr. Louise Change. “Nearing Menopause? Depression a Risk”. WebMD. www.webmd.com
- “Clinical Depression”. University Health Services. www.uhs.berkeley.edu
- “Women and Depression: Menopause”. University of Michigan Depression Center. www.med.umich.edu.
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