Late menopause is linked to a lower risk of depression in later life, according to new findings. The research included 14 studies in a meta-analysis, representing nearly 68,000 women. The findings suggest that menopause in women over 40 compared to premature menopause women was associated with a lower risk of depression. This is because these women are exposed longer to endogenous estrogen.
The authors concluded, “This meta-analysis suggests a potentially protective effect of increasing duration of exposure to endogenous estrogens as assessed by age at menopause as well as by the duration of the reproductive period. If confirmed in prospective and culturally diverse studies, controlling for potential confounders and assessing depression via psychiatric evaluation, these findings could have a significant clinical effect by allowing for the identification of a group of women at higher risk for depression who may benefit from psychiatric monitoring or estrogen-based therapies.”
Depression and its link to menopause
Changes in hormones accompanying menopause could result in depression. Many women have been found to experience mood swings during menopause, especially during perimenopause. Fluctuating hormones could contribute to high moods followed by low moods. The latter can also be a result of insufficient sleep due to night sweats.
Furthermore, women who have experienced intense mood swings during PMS in their younger years may also be more susceptible to mood swings during perimenopause. And women with a history of clinical depression are at a higher risk as well.
Symptoms of depression include two or more weeks of a depressed mood, decreased enjoyment of once loved activities, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, fatigue or loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness, restlessness and irritability, and suicidal thoughts.
How is depression treated during menopause?
Lifestyle changes, natural remedies, and even medical interventions can be combined in order to treat depression in menopause. Antidepressants may be prescribed by your doctor, and you may be advised to partake in psychotherapy.
The following are some suggested lifestyle changes that can help you ease depression.
- Prioritize tasks and break larger projects into smaller ones
- Participate in activities you enjoy
- Postpone important decisions until the depression moods pass
- Get support from others
- Reduce stress and find ways to cope with stress effectively
- Get proper sleep
- Ensure you are eating well
Combining these treatments together can give you the best relief of depressive symptoms. The first step is to acknowledge you are feeling low and to ask for help.
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