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Depression is a common yet potentially serious menopause symptom. It entails more than the occasional bout of sadness and, if not treated, can negatively impact overall quality of life.

Women are especially susceptible to depression, particularly during stages of hormonal fluctuation, such as menopause. Women ages 45 - 55 are four times more likely to have depression than women who have not yet reached that stage in life.

One of the reasons that women, especially during menopause, are more likely to suffer from depression is due to hormonal imbalance. Continue reading to learn all about depression, its signs and symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

what is depression

About Depression

Depression refers to a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy, feelings of sadness, and a despondent lack of activity. 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 closely related to menopause than others. The following are categories of depression linked to menopause:

Did You Know?

Untreated depression can lead to a greater risk of heart attacks and osteoporosis.

  • Major depression. This 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.

  • Dysthymic disorder. Less intense than major depression, dysthymia often lasts for longer, normally for two years or more.

  • Adjustment disorder. This is often brought on by a stressful event or situation. It can be acute, lasting less than six months, or chronic, lasting longer than six months.

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This type of depression 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:

  • Risk Factors for Depression

    • History of depression
    • Stress
    • Smoking or quitting smoking
    • Drug and alcohol use
    • Surgical or medical menopause
  • Manic depression or bipolar disorder. This psychological disorder causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function, characterized by alternating episodes of mania and episodes of depression. Symptoms can be very severe.

  • Psychotic depression. This includes some features of psychosis, such as hallucinations, delusions, and irrational thoughts and fears.

Symptoms of depression

Click on the following link to read more about depression, or continue reading below to learn about the signs and symptoms of depression.

Types of Depression

Depression is a recognized mental health illness, not an occasional sadness or moodiness. It encompasses a wide range of disorders, such as dysthymia or bipolar disorder, each with different patterns of occurrence and effects on women's lives. Determining the type of depression is the first step to effectively treating it.

Myths and Facts about Seasonal Depression

Many people suffer from seasonal related depression - also called seasonal affective disorder - and this can make certain time of the year difficult to deal with. It can sometimes be confusing to sort the truth from the fact, so this article aims to clear up any confusion.

Depression Signs and Symptoms

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:

Physical symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Decreased energy
  • Overeating
  • Appetite loss
  • Insomnia
  • Early-morning wakefulness
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Persistent aches or pains
  • Headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

Emotional Symptoms

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

Behavioral symptoms

  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering details
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • 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.

Bipolar Disorder Tests

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a life-changing mental health condition that can cause extreme mood swings involving emotional highs and lows. Although many women may perform self-assessments, there are various medical assessments to confirm the condition's diagnosis. Read here to learn more about the various bipolar disorder t

Effects of Depression on Women

Depression can be a debilitating illness if left untreated. It disrupts women's ability to be actively engaged in their family and social life, to stay healthy, and to keep up with their work responsibilities.It impacts how they think about themselves and life as a whole, leaving them prone to risky behaviors or even suicide.

Causes of Depression

Depression 2

The underlying cause of depression in menopausal women involves hormonal imbalance, especially decreased levels of estrogen. As women approach menopause, their estrogen levels begin to drop off. Estrogen plays an integral part in regulating brain functions, especially neurotransmitters that influence mood, such as serotonin. Decreasing estrogen levels during menopause can also cause other physical and mental symptoms, such as hot flashes and anxiety, which can contribute to depression.

causes of depression

Other causes include biochemical, genetic, personality, and environmental factors, as well as other diseases.

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.

Stress and Depression: Is it Cause and Effect?

Stress can be beneficial for us, because it exerts pressure and motivates us to achieve the desired goals. But our inability to cope with stress causes cortisol hormone to accumulate in our body and makes us prone to depression and other diseases. Stress management is therefore essential to preventing mental health illness.

Menstrual Cycle and Depression: The Link

The menstrual cycle is often blamed for many physical and emotional changes that a woman undergoes, and depression is one of these changes. This article examines the link between menstruation and episodes of depression, hopefully clearing up any confusion surrounding them and identifying the link.

Depression Treatments

Although depression can make a woman feel hopeless, a variety of treatment options exist that can treat her depression and improve her overall quality of life. 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 like meditation or yoga.

By simply including five 30-minute sessions of physical activity such as walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling into a weekly routine, a woman can greatly relieve her milder depression symptoms.

Similarly, a healthy diet 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 needs further help treating her symptoms.

Depression Treatments

The most effective approach, since depression in menopausal women is primarily caused by a hormonal imbalance, is to treat the problem directly at the 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 consider pharmaceutical options. It is recommended that a woman consult a trusted medical professional before beginning such treatments in order to better understand the potential benefits and risks involved.

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.

Dealing with Depression and Low Libido

Loss of libido is very upsetting, so there is no wonder why many women will experience it in combination with depression. If you are feeling down that you cannot become as aroused, try these methods for lifting your body and mind, making you happy and ready for love.

Clinical Depression Treatments

There are many clinical depression treatments available, and it is important to be informed about the options before making a decision on which route to take - remember to make a decision after talking with your doctor. This article provides a brief description of a few of the possible treatment options.

  • Amin, Z. , Canli, T. & Epperson, C.N. (2005). Effects of Estrogen-Serotonin Interactions on Mood and Cognition. Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, 4(1), 43-58. Retrieved from
  • Lane, A.M. & Lovejoy, D.J. (2001). The effects of exercise on mood changes: the moderating effect of depressed mood. The Journal of Sports of Medicine and Physical Fitness, 41(4), 539-545.
  • National Institutes of Health. (2014). Learn to manage stress. Retrieved May 6, 2016, from
  • Office on Women's Health. (2010). Menopause and mental health. Retrieved May 6, 2016, from
  • University of Michigan Depression Center. (n.d.). Depression During Menopause. Retrieved May 6, 2016, from

General articles

Updated on Mar 31, 2017
Differences in Depression in Older and Younger Women
Depression is a mental illness that develops over time that affects women of all ages. Genetics, environmental and emotional trauma can accelerate the development of depression. Seeking professional help, having a support system, and staying active are all helpful ways to overcome pain and depression.
Updated on Mar 21, 2016
Poor Diet and Depression: Are They Linked?
Depression is a distressing illness, often having a highly negative effect on everyday life, leading some people to seek solutions. Some try to improve their diet, believing that diet and depression are linked. But does a poor diet really cause depression? This article addresses this very question, taking into account the current evidence.
Updated on Oct 26, 2015
Middle-Aged Women and Depression
Depression is an illness that often develops in middle-aged women and can affect all aspects of life. Depression is more likely to strike at this age due to hormonal fluctuations that occur during menopause. If you are suffering from low mood, change in appetite, and loss of libido, you should consult your doctor.
Updated on Oct 14, 2015
Depression after a Hysterectomy: What Should I Do?
A hysterectomy is a big event in any woman's life, and can often be followed by the onset of depression. This can further exacerbate the problems that having a hysterectomy might cause. This article focuses on a few self-help remedies that should help reduce depression.
Updated on Jul 14, 2015
Menopausal Depression: Should I Be Worried?
1 in 5 women develop depression at some point in their lives, and it is most common in women aged 40 - 59. Hormone fluctuations experienced during menopause is the primary cause of depression in women. It is important to remember that depression is common and treatable.