You were warned about the hot flashes, and you remember your mother turning the air conditioner down before bed to combat her night sweats. The mood swings and the fatigue snuck up on you, but you have battled those, too. But what about the thoughts of doom and gloom? There is a black cloud hovering over you, and no one said that sometimes menopause fed into depression.
But it does.
Menopause and depression walk hand-in-hand, but, all too often, the depression is swept under the rug as a “normal” part of getting older. But it isn’t “normal.” Depression is a serious red flag that should never be ignored or left untreated.
Depression: A Definition and a (Small) Clarification
Depression is a very daunting mental illness with a laundry list of symptoms. Its descension is all but unknown, but is said to stem from stress, genetics, hormonal, biological or environmental factors. Or a combination of all five. So it’s tough to say where your depression is (or isn’t) coming from, and how it should or shouldn’t be tended to. But it can be effectively treated.
During menopause, women experience a decrease in their estrogen levels. This drop in estrogen is said to be the main cause of hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats. This creates unbalance between progesterone (another vital and complex hormone), estrogen and all of the other hormones that make up a woman’s system. These ups and downs produce the argument that depression during menopause isn’t caused by mental instability, but by hormone instability.
Further studies have shown that this decline, this “estrogen dominance” is directly linked to fluctuations in serotonin (the mood altering and stabilizing chemical in brains), and could be the leading cause of why women suffer from depression during this transitional stage.
What Are My Treatment Options?
With the advancement of medicine and our understanding of depression, there are many effective ways to treat this disease such as:
Taking an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. These two options provide a simple solution to a complex problem, and they attempt put a “one size fits all” band-aid on a much larger issue. While antidepressants may curb your anxiety and morose feelings, the bigger picture is that perimenopause and menopause are not mental health disorders, and shouldn’t be treated as such. In a 12 to 2 and a 10 to 4 vote, the FDA ruled against the use of some nonhormonal drugs (read as: antidepressants) to treat menopausal symptoms while saying, “The risks far outweigh the benefits.”
A regime of talk therapy. Psychotherapy is an industry put in place to help and is highly sought after for those who have suffered traumas and stressors throughout their lives. Is it right for you? Talk therapy is extremely effective for those who carry the cross of depression as a mental illness. But what about those who have it as a result of hormone fluctuation? This may not be the right path for you.
Begin bio-identical hormone replacement. A hormone that is identical to the structure of those produced by your own body, bio-identical hormones replenish those that have diminished. Bio-identical hormones bring hormone levels back to stability without the unnatural, unrecognizable molecules found in synthetic replacement which fill the body with toxins and carcinogens. Instead, bio-identical hormones are compounded so that your body will recognize and be receptive to this replacement.
The truth of the matter is this: menopause creates a hormone imbalance where depressive symptoms are a sad side effect. This creates the illusion that it’s the onset of a mental illness, but, at its core, it’s estrogen dominance that can be corrected when properly acknowledged and diagnosed.
The crux of our ideology is that you can do amazing things when your body has peak levels of nutrients and hormones, minimal toxins, an ideal physical body, and a healthy mind. This is the basic breakdown of our five-point Restorative Approach which seeks out imbalances in any and all of these categories and corrects them to get incredible results. The best way to treat these “blues” is to replace the hormones your body is lacking so that you can face the world again, confident and happy.