I’ve heard the same story over and over again from so many women.
Life is ticking along as it does and then BAM! Without warning, a feeling of deep and unexplained sadness falls down like a mist over your life. Things that you used to enjoy don’t interest you anymore. You have little or no self-confidence or self-esteem. You feel overwhelmed by a constant feeling of tiredness that doesn’t go away even if you rest. People that you know and love start to lose their shape; they seem like two dimensional sketches that you can’t relate to anymore. Nothing feels real. You walk around, not living, just existing from one day to the next, wondering if this will ever end.
Does that sound familiar? If it does, then just remember: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We did a survey on the site and nearly half of all the readers that took part said that they had experienced depression. There are an estimated 13 million women going through the menopause in the UK. If the results of our study are anything to go by, then nearly half of all those women might be suffering with depression. It’s a startling fact but an important one. The more open we are about how we feel and the more we share our experiences, the less stigmatised it all becomes.
Causes of Depression
Estrogen stimulates serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter in your body, responsible for happy feelings and wellbeing. Declining estrogen is directly linked to declining serotonin.
My Top Tips
Find the right treatment.
Many GPs are quick to prescribe antidepressants, but if the cause of your depression is the menopause, then the treatment should target the menopause, not the depression. Antidepressants should be used to treat depression as a long-term mental illness, not menopause related depression. If you’re having trouble convincing your GP, try using Dr Louise Newson’s symptom checklist, found here. It’s your body and only you know how you are feeling. Remember, although the menopause is a natural part of life, you don’t have to suffer with the symptoms.
Therapy is always encouraged as a safe and effective way to treat depression, anxiety, and any other mental illnesses. For the menopause, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)is often recommended, as it focuses on acute depression that often occurs with the menopause (as opposed to long-term depression).
Remind yourself that it’s the menopause.
It is very, very normal to feel depression or depressive symptoms during the menopause. As mentioned, there is less serotonin in your system, which directly means that the “happy” chemical in your body has gone down. But it will stabilize, and therefore it WILL get better. You are not being ungrateful and you are not going insane. This is medically normal and it will pass, so remind yourself of that when you’re feeling your worst.
Don’t skip a meal.
Blood sugar imbalances (caused by skipping meals, along with drinking too much caffeine, and eating too much refined sugar and white carbs) can cause low mood and depressive symptoms, so keeping a healthy, consistent, balanced diet can help manage your mood. Focus on protein-rich meals with plenty of vegetables and wholegrains to best manage your mood.
Take an Epsom salt bath.
Magnesium is a nutrient that can help increase levels of serotonin, and Epsom salts contain magnesium, which can be absorbed through the skin! Yes, you can find magnesium is leafy greens, legumes, and nuts, but a warm Epsom salt bath is not just more fun, but also can help destress! In fact, a recent studyconcluded that taking a warm afternoon bath at least twice seems to be a “fast-acting method of improving depressive symptoms”.
For more on depression, read the article: Dealing With Depression.