Can menopause cause Depression and Anxiety?
As women approach menopause, there multiple changes that occur that makes it a turbulent time.
The drop in estrogen levels not only cause menses to slow down and eventually stop but also other physical changes such as hot flashes, weight gain, sleep disturbances. The transition period into menopause – perimenopause- is also riddled with menopausal symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, changes in the menses cycle (Harvard Health, 2018).
This fluctuation in hormone levels not only causes physical changes but also affects the chemicals in the brain (i.e. neurotransmitters) that cause other emotional changes which contribute to the turbulence.
Research has found that 18% of women in early perimenopause and 38% of women in late perimenopause experience depressive symptoms and symptoms of anxiety have beenfound to occur more commonly leading up to menopause (Freeman, 2015 ;Yasgur, 2017). These include mood swings, decrease in energy, increase in irritability and restlessness, difficulty controlling worry or fear etc.
A lot of the times, it is difficult to differentiate between mood fluctuations as a result of menopause and anxiety and depression. As a result, a lot of women cannot tell when they need to seek help.
So when is it necessary to consider reaching out for professional help?
While menopausal transition is linked to the risk of depressive and anxious symptoms (Mulhall, 2017)- frequent, consistent and severe symptoms of anxiety and depression is not the norm.
It is common to experience some symptoms of anxiety and depression; however, when the symptoms of anxiety and depression are increasingly frequent, increasing in intensity and longer in duration is when it needs to be noticed.
Before it reaches a point where the symptoms are debilitating and interfering in one’s life to a point of dysfunction, it is extremely essential to seek professional help from a mental health professional in combination with a gynaecologist.