Is There an Association Between Menopause and Depression?

Is There an Association Between Menopause and Depression?

November 13, 2021

Is There an Association Between Menopause and Depression?

Mental Health

Transitioning into menopause is a very sensitive period as women go through a huge emotional shift along with physical changes. From the perimenopause to the menopause years, there could be an avalanche of psychological changes a woman might encounter. And depression could be is one of the fallouts while transitioning into menopause for many.

Although no causal link has been established between depression and menopause, it is generally observed that women are susceptible to depression during the perimenopause years and immediately after menopause. Women are twice as likely to go into depression during this phase. There are conjectures that women become sensitive to the hormone shift that takes place during the perimenopause phase for which they become much more prone to develop depression.

Moreover, women who have a history of depression in early life are more likely to suffer from it after menopause. However, the risk also dissipates after two to four years following menopause.

Scientists are now trying to deduce any link between menopause and depression and the possible remedies.

Depression is a common mental health problem that can occur to people of any age and gender. Some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Dwindling interest in activities that used to be fun earlier
  • Constant feelings of sadness, emptiness, or apathy
  • Lack of energy
  • Difficulty in remembering, concentrating, and making decisions
  • Change in appetite, weight changes, or both
  • Problem sleeping or oversleeping
  • Slurred speech etc.

One of the most common types of depression is major depressive disorder (MDD), which afflicts women going through menopause. A new study from 2018 validates this, saying that women going through menopause have a proclivity to develop depression, mainly MDD.

It is yet to be established by all studies trying to investigate this link between depression and menopause. However, a couple of them have suggested that there is a five times higher risk for women of getting depressed during perimenopause compared with the late premenopausal years.

What are the contributing factors to depression during menopause?

Physiological factors:

There is drastic fluctuation in a person’s hormone levels during the perimenopause phase where estrogen and progesterone rise and fall inexplicably. This causes changes in the brain’s chemistry, function, and structure.

Due to estrogen, there is an enhancement of the effect of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating moods. So, with the depletion of estrogen levels the balance of these chemicals is also jeopardized.

A 2015 survey came up with reasons why some people are more susceptible to clinical depression during perimenopause. They are:

  • People with a personal or family history of depression
  • Those who suffered from the premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • A history of postpartum depression etc.

However, the study also concluded and didn’t rule out that the risk of depression is higher in all people going through perimenopause, irrespective of their personal or family history.

Psychological factors:

Menopause brings about psychological changes and along with it comes social impact, thereby affecting mental health. While some take menopause as positive and aging gracefully others think to associate with negative aspects such as:

  • Menopause or aging is a negative thing
  • Menopause is about not being youthful or womanly
  • Menopause symptoms are stressful and affect their ability to work
  • They will lack social support after menopause

All these negative feelings may impact a woman’s mental health to a large extent. However, it is not a generalized effect and may vary across societies.

Some societies value youth highly, while there are others that value age and wisdom, and experience. According to a 2021 review, people from cultures that revere older age have fewer menopause symptoms. This is a clear indication that social norms can contribute to how people transition into the menopause phase.

There is also a part played by gender roles in a particular society that affects people experiencing menopause. Although women are much into working outside, they are still believed to be responsible for child care and household chores. It becomes a tough proposition for women to manage the house, work outside and at the same time handle the onset of menopause. This may cause insurmountable stress in women going into menopause.

Women are perceived as caregivers more than men, although this role can change around midlife. When children start to leave home, older relatives may begin to need care due to illness or disability. Both these scenarios may build stress or depression in women.

Other health conditions

Apart from the above primary reasons for depression in women during menopause, frail health conditions that come with age also contribute to a lot of stress. A lot of factors such as chronic health conditions, lifestyle habits, and surgical menopause may also influence depression risk in women.

Get help

Whether it is a menopause-triggered depression or any behavioral health problem, seeking early intervention is the key to a long-term recovery and ease of the treatment process.

So, if you or a loved one is facing any mental health issue, help is just a call away with Invictus Health Group. We can connect you to the best residential treatment centers in California for a speedy recovery. We collaborate with top residential treatment centers in and around California that offer comprehensive treatment for any mental health or substance abuse disorder.

For more information call us now on our 24/7 helpline number 866-548-0190 and get immediate assistance.

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