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When is it depression?

Depression is a common and potentially serious menopause symptom.


Feelings of sadness are normal as we go through the roller coaster of highs and lows in our lives.

So is feeling unhappy for short periods of time.

But when these types of feelings persist and are impairing your ability to get on with daily life, it could signal the presence of a more serious depressive disorder.

A loss of interest in usual activities, a sleeping disorder and withdrawal from friends and family can also be signs of depression.

Sometimes, depression can be a symptom of menopause.

What is the link between depression and menopause?

The underlying cause of depression in menopausal women is hormonal imbalance, particularly the reduction in levels of estrogen.

This hormone plays a big role in regulating brain functions especially chemicals that influence mood such as serotonin and cortisol.

Decreasing levels of estrogen that occur as women enter menopause can also cause other physical and psychological issues such as hot flushes and anxiety, which can lead to depression.

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This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.


Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.