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Menopause and Depression

written by: Sarah Mitchell • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/7/2011

Menopause is an inevitable end to a woman’s reproductive cycle. During this time, women not only experience physical changes but emotional transformations as well including depression. Gain insight into menopause and depression, while picking up helpful resources available to women.

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    The Link Between Menopause and Depression

    Ovaries produce a hormone known as estrogen. During the years leading up to menopause, also known as perimenopause, estrogen levels begin to decline. Without estrogen, or a lack thereof, women exhibit varying symptoms, such as emotional ups and downs. In fact, there is strong anecdotal evidence that depression can result from menopause since many women have reported depressive symptoms.

    Other known factors that place women at risk for menopause-related depression include personal and/or familial history of depression, grief over the inability to bear children, and increased menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.

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    Finding the Right Doctor for Women with Depression and Menopause

    If depression remains undiagnosed and untreated, there is the potential for the development of adverse health effects related to the heart and other bodily structures. Therefore, it is imperative for sufferers to obtain assistance from their physician.

    Women who do not have a doctor or who simply wish to find a new one may do so through the help of an online search provided by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Users may search for a NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner (NCMP) on their clinician search page. Of advanced note, the NAMS does not recommend or endorse any clinician, and for that reason, seekers should research prospects before reaching a decision.

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    Resources Available for Women Suffering from Menopausal Depression

    Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and/or antidepressants can help to regulate mood and provide symptomatic relief; however, these are prescribed under the care of a doctor after an evaluation and diagnosis has been made.

    Support groups are often therapeutic by allowing each member to express personal feelings in a nonjudgmental environment. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) offers both face-to-face support groups through their affiliated chapters and online support groups by way of virtual meetings.

    Women can take a proactive approach to their health by gaining knowledge through patient education, news, and coping techniques through organizations such as the American Menopause Foundation, the NAMS, and the National Women’s Health Information Center.

    For those without healthcare, low-cost or no cost healthcare may be available through federally-funded health centers. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) provides a database that can locate any center by address, county, or state. Another possibility is Medicaid, a state and federally-funded health insurance plan for those with limited resources that meet certain requirements. States may vary in their coverage and eligibility.

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    CAUTION

    Suicidal thoughts or ideation may arise in some women with menopause and depression. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is there 24/7 to provide confidential help for those in crisis or distress.

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    Disclaimer

    The information in this article is for information purposes only. Women experiencing any or all signs of depression are urged to seek the help of a licensed health care provider as soon as possible.

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    Sources

    University of Michigan: Depression Center website. Women & Depression. Accessed February 3, 2011.

    The North American Menopause Society website. Find a Clinician/NCMP Search. Accessed February 4, 2011.

    Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance website. DBSA Chapters/Support Groups. Accessed February 4, 2011.

    National Suicide Prevention Hotline website. Accessed February 4, 2011.