Inspiration and support to live your healthiest life.
Menopause is a period whose changes are often received with mixed feelings – there are those like no more periods and bidding farewell to child bearing which are more than welcome, but there are many others that are not as welcome. Menopausal women can be quite excited with the change, and utterly disturbed and afraid of what the changes would mean to her life as a person and in the family or society.
Some of the experiences that may confront women during this transition period include having problems with gums (bleeding, inflammation, etc.), pain in the joints and muscle tension, a burning tongue and problems with digestion (gas production in excess, nausea, and gastrointestinal cramping), headaches and breast pains (tenderness, soreness, or pain upon touching), changes in heartbeat and in body odour, vaginal dryness and urinal incontinence, loss of concentration and memory lapses, fatigue and dizziness, mood swings and disturbed sleep patterns, hot flushes and night sweats, irregular periods and loss of sexual drive, anxiety, panic and depression.
Depression is a symptom of menopause, a situation that leads one to lack of interest in things you have always enjoyed to do. Consequently, it can bring about a change in feelings (like sadness, guilt and hopelessness), a change in thought processes (difficulties in making decisions, suicidal or injurious thoughts, and loss of memory or concentrations), a change in behavior patterns (separating yourself from family or friends, abuse of substance, absconding from duty or other engagements), as well as a change in physical aspects (loss or gain of appetite – hence gaining or losing weight, generally feeling tired, disruption of sleep patterns, and the kind of pains that are difficult to explain).
Although depression affects women during perimenopause and during menopause itself, the risk of more depression is projected at post-menopause, which is defined as the period following 12 consecutive months of lack of the monthly cycles.
Let us start with the basics. A woman is deemed to have entered the transition period into menopause, as a result of declining levels of hormones in the body. During the period in which hormonal fluctuation is high, the risks that come with menopause are also considered high. At this stage, the body is confronted with strange physical, emotional and psychological changes, which can truly be a toll order for a woman who has over the years enjoyed a calm life.
At this point, it would be important to note that women in the postmenopausal period actually no longer experience hormonal fluctuations. As such, there is a sense of normalcy or even reduced levels of depression, just like any other person or like male counterparts for that matter. As a matter of fact, women who are still in their reproductive years may experience higher levels of depression than those in post-menopause.
So what is the gist of this observation? According to a recent research study which was based on more than 13,000 studies reviewed by a team of professionals led by Marios K. Georgakis (Athens, Greece: The National and Kapodistrian University), women who experienced early menopause had higher levels of depression than those who experienced menopause later in life. That is to say, that there is almost as twice as high a risk, for women below the age of 40 (defined as perimenopause or premature menopause) to suffer from depression.
One of the long-serving approaches in dealing with the symptoms of menopause (including depression) has been the boosting of estrogen levels (using creams, rings, tablets, and so on), in an effort to keep the body in its former state before the commencement of declining of estrogen levels. It should also be noted, that menopause is by default a natural process, and unless otherwise triggered earlier in life through lifestyle choices or through medical procedures, it is not a common occurrence for women under 40.
In other words, under normal circumstances, a woman would not need to be exposed to menopause supplements early in life, if she is still active in reproduction over a long period of time, and her body is still operating under natural hormones (endogenous estrogens). During the research, this finding was based on 4 major studies, with about 3,000 participants.
The findings of this study are more especially relevant to the women who are at an increased risk for depression, not because of menopause in the natural setting, but as a result of early menopause; it means women facing menopause before the age of 40 should attract more helpful attention, in combating depression, among other symptoms.
In recognition of the fact that the risk of depression is higher before the post-menopause period, careful thought should be given to seek necessary help from health professionals. But before then, you could surely do a lot of good to yourself, if you earnestly exercised regularly, made positive lifestyle changes, minimized or did away with alcohol altogether, improved on your diet, or went for antidepressants.