Depression During Menopause: New GuidelinesMar 09, 2020
Hot flashes and night sweats are hallmark symptoms of menopause and receive most of the attention because they can be most disruptive to everyday life. Depression as a menopause symptom often goes unnoticed and underrecognized because it can be much more subtle. It is important to know that the menopausal transition is considered a “window of vulnerability” for the development of depressive symptoms.
That's why the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) is providing new depression guidelines:
Here are the key points:
The worsening of mood is normal during menopause and on its own is not a sign of concern. This could include feeling sad and not finding as much enjoyment in things. When should you worry? If these feelings start happening daily for at least two weeks, it is a good idea to seek out professional help. The NAMS website has a link where you can find menopause practitioners in your area.
The good news about these symptoms is that they will subside as you transition through menopause.
A small number of women will develop clinical depression. Women with prior history of mood disorders and/or depression are at a much higher risk for developing symptoms of depression during the menopausal transition and into early postmenopause. Also, women that are estrogen-sensitive are at an increased risk. You would be considered estrogen-sensitive if you had mood differences in the last part of the menstrual cycle, post-partum, and/or peri-natal.
Good news: There's very strong evidence that physical activity, especially aerobic and intense physical activity can help. Over the past 15 years, an abundance of studies has shown a clear inverse relationship between regular physical activity and depression. Women that exercise more tend to be more positive, have more energy and feel better overall.
NAMS has an excellent video series with lots of menopause-related information. The videos are short and super informative and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in wanting to learn more. The video on mood during menopause can be found here.