Can Menopause Cause Depression?

April 22, 2021

The time leading up to menopause is called perimenopause.  This time in a woman’s life can be a physical and emotional roller coaster for some women. During this so-called “change of life” comes a host of symptoms triggered by hormonal shifts.  Which may include hot flashes, insomnia, mood fluctuations, and even depression. When women go through such sudden hormonal changes like menopause it can put them at higher risk for depression.

What Are Some Ways Menopause Can Affect Your Mental Health?

Fluctuating Hormones

The same hormones that control your menstrual cycle also influence serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes feelings of well-being and happiness. When those hormone levels drop, serotonin levels can also fall, which contributes to increased irritability, anxiety, and sadness.

Trouble Sleeping

During the perimenopause phase, it is common for women to experience episodes of insomnia.  One of the factors that cause sleep problems in women is due to nighttime hot flashes. In turn, the lack of sleep or the poor quality of sleep can increase your odds of becoming depressed.

The Stage Of Life Does Play A Role

Generally the perimenopause phase typically occurs when women are in their 40s. If we are removing the turbulent hormones from the equation, this can also be a stress-filled stage of life in general. The life events that can impact our emotional health, such as:

  • Aging parents
  • Career pressures
  • Health issues
  • Children leaving home

Those external pressures can increase the occurrence of mood swings, as well as bring on depression.

Being Diagnosed With Depression In The Past

If you have experienced depression in the past you may be more likely to experience an episode again once you are approaching menopause. Talk to your doctor if your previous symptoms return or if you develop new ones, that may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness or irritability
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Oversleeping or insomnia
  • Overwhelming fatigue and/or lack of motivation
  • Losing interest in activities that you previously enjoyed
  • Difficulty making decisions and retaining information
  • Thoughts of suicide

Making adjustments in your lifestyle can also help reduce perimenopause symptoms and promote good postmenopausal health. Adopting healthy habits that includes eating a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption are always good decisions.  It is an active role you can play and will help you to better navigate this phase of your life.

Reaching menopause can be a relief for many women. Knowing that many of these symptoms are only temporary also helps.  When these symptoms become overwhelming, be sure to discuss them with your doctor.  OB-GYN Women’s Centre is here to help you during this time of your life and help to find ways to relieve your symptoms.