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Do women going through menopause experience depression differently?  “I never know if depression is what I’m really experiencing, or if it’s something else and how long will it last” Sara told me. ‘Menopause made that process even more confusing at times.”

When I heard these words from a friend of mine, I realized that unless someone ‘diagnoses’ you as depressed, how do you really know that is what you are experiencing? Most of us have been or seen someone depressed in our lives, so we are at risk for labeling ourselves something that might not even be true, or worse yet, become a limitation to us for no good reason!

So let’s get it straight. What does depression feel like? How does one know if they should be concerned about what they are feeling or thinking?

Feeling down once in awhile is considered normal for most people. But it passes quickly. If these feelings of sadness persist, however, and possibly become stronger or more intense over prolonged periods of time, and they aren’t naturally resolved, it’s time to look at the reasons and see what can be done about it.

Here is a checklist of symptoms related to depression during menopause: gloomy, sadness, loss of interest and pleasures, fatigue, loss of vigor, extreme restlessness and irritability, loss of concentration and attentiveness, loss of self-respect and self-confidence, guilt, lack of self-worth, hopelessness, thoughts of suicide, insomnia, and a loss of appetite.

Depression that goes untreated can become “clinical” and requires professional treatment. If you think you are “clinically” depressed, do not hesitate to get help from a therapist or doctor.

What I’m referring to here is a condition that is brought on by hormonal changes in the body particularly during the menopausal years that is often linked to a decrease in estrogen levels. However, some doctors believe symptoms are caused by a decrease in progesterone and resultant rise in estrogen (but more about that in the progesterone article).

If that is what you are experiencing, you have a few options. One is the traditional Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Hormone Replacement Therapy and the other is new alternative medicine that include herbal remedies, dietary supplements such as 5-HTP, or something called Bioidentical Hormones.

Other things you can do to support yourself through menopause and depression are:

  • Exercise, do a little every day
  • Learn to manage your stress carefully so you do not get overwhelmed
  • Promote good sleep by avoiding things that stress you out and indulging in things that relax you like hot baths
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, avoid refined sugar and high-carbohydrate foods
  • Make time to do something you enjoy EVERY day
  • Be realistic about the expectations you put on yourself
  • Menopause can be time of great change and depression may play a factor for some women and men. Be sure to get help if you need it.

The information in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice.