Depression refers to a feeling of lethargy and hopelessness that lasts for an extended period of time. Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression - this is related in part to women more often seeking treatment, but also to hormonal changes that women experience throughout life. Women are five times more likely to suffer from postmenopausal depression if they experienced depression earlier in their lives.
This is a complicated condition, but all sufferers are deserving of help and attention. Continue reading to find out more about identifying and treating postmenopausal depression.
Signs and Symptoms of Postmenopausal Depression
The symptoms of depression are indiscriminate, but postmenopausal women with depression tend to experience certain symptoms more than premenopausal women. Signs and symptoms of postmenopausal depression include:
- Feelings of hopelessness and numbness
- Lack of interest in hobbies and work
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- Reduced mobility
- Digestive problems and cramps
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Changes in appetite
- Nervous tension
Most people who suffer from depression experience a combination of physical and emotional symptoms. Depression is not just a psychological condition - it can also affect the body physically. Sometimes, these symptoms may overlap with other symptoms of menopause and postmenopause.
How to Treat Postmenopausal Depression
Once depression is properly diagnosed, it can be treated via several different approaches. It is important for all people to have a support network, but especially for those experiencing depression. Postmenopausal women may find solace in menopause support groups, whether in person or on online forums, where women going through the same thing can share experiences and tips.
More structured counseling and therapy and also be of great help. Talk therapy helps those experiencing depression to untangle underlying issues and look at their experience from a different angle. Even talking with friends and family who won't judge you can have a therapeutic effect.
For severe and chronic depression, medication may be recommended on a case-by-case basis. There are many different types of antidepressants, and a prescription for one person may not be effective for another. For postmenopausal women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be beneficial because it counters low hormone levels. Generally, postmenopausal women taking HRT have milder symptoms of depression compared to those not taking it.
Many people worry about the side effects of taking these medications. This is a legitimate concern, but a doctor or psychiatrist can assess the risks and benefits given each person's medical history and preferences, and then monitor each patient closely. The dosage and type of medication can be changed as necessary, so no one is left without help.
Depression can be difficult to face, and during postmenopause, many factors can contribute to it. However, no woman should suffer alone with this treatable condition. Click on the links below for more information about treating depression during and after menopause.