Each year 1.3 million women reach menopause in the United States. Although most women transition to menopause without experiencing psychiatric problems, it is estimated that 20% have depression at some point during menopause.
have generally shown an increased risk of depression throughout perimenopause,
however, there is a decrease in risk of depression
during postmenopausal years.
So, is there a connection between your
hormones and depression. Studies have indicated
that changes in estrogen levels, may be related to depressive symptoms in the
menopausal transition of some women.
Estrogen has a close relationship
with the brain and can affect the chemical messengers of the nervous system. Serotonin
and norepinephrine are thought to be the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters)
of the brain that are related to the physiologic cause of depression.
Although the precise mechanisms are yet
unknown, as estrogen levels decline, regulation of serotonin and norepinephrine
may change which may contribute to depression.
As most women can attest, depression is significantly linked to times of hormonal changes in females. Observations and data suggest that depression in women begins at puberty. Hormonal changes are thought to contribute to pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD, PMS), as well as mood changes after giving birth and in perimenopause.
Scientists have discovered that women with a history of
mood disorders or of premenstrual and postpartum mood-related symptoms are more
likely to experience depression during menopause when hormones start declining.
In addition to hormonal changes, women with
particular types of stressors seem to be at increased risk for perimenopausal
depression. Such stressors or factors include the following:
of social support
overall health status
of illness in self or others
of aging parents
mood before menopause
attitude toward menopause and aging
or no exercise
feelings toward partner
value of youth – In societies where age is valued, fewer symptoms at the
menopause transition are reported
It is never easy to experience depression or to see your
loved one be depressed. In my practice, I oftentimes observe a positive
improvement in the mood after a woman’s or man’s hormones are balanced. Sometimes
the depression is so severe that the patient’s loved ones seek help for the
patient. It is important to note that depression is a very complicated
physiological and psychological disorder and hormones may be an important piece
of this puzzle.
If you or your loved one suffer from mood disorders, a simple blood test to check your hormone levels and a hormone consultation may be an important step in seeking help and getting closer to recovery. For more information call me at 480-264-7600