Hormones and Depression in Women
It is common for menopause to prompt emotions of sadness and depression in women. It is estimated that between 8% and 15% in menopause experience depression in women of some form, often beginning in perimenopause.
The onset of perimenopause and menopause result in a variety of physical and emotional symptoms which can cause stress, frustration, and ultimately depression. These symptoms, added to an already full load of responsibilities with your family, work, finances, etc., can be just too much to deal with. It doesn't help that most women dread menopause all of their lives due to the horror stories that are passed along by friends and family members.
Beyond that, depression, like stress, may be another symptom of menopause. The hormone imbalance associated with perimenopause and menopause inhibits your body from managing stress and experiencing positive moods. Hormones and depression in women are closely related.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression affects nearly 19 million American adults. Make an appointment with a BodyLogicMD affiliated physician if you have had five or more of the following symptoms for the last month or more:
- Depressed mood (sometimes shows up as irritability)
- Loss of interest or pleasure in life (don't enjoy things you used to enjoy)
- Significant change in appetite (up or down)
- Abnormal changes in sleep pattern (too much or too little)
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate excessive guilt
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate
- Becoming indecisive or easily overwhelmed
- Thoughts of death and suicide
Depression is not a weakness. In fact, it is a very common emotional experience with a variety of triggers. Pinpointing exactly what triggers an individual's depression, which includes hormones, provides the physician with the key to successful treatment.
The Hormones that affect Depression
There are several hormones that play a part in depression. The relationships between hormones and depression in women include:
Estrogen: Boosts serotonin, which helps fight depression and promotes sleep. It also increases GABA, the calming neurotransmitter and raises endorphins, which help you feel good. Low estrogen levels often found in menopause can cause feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Progesterone: This hormone helps to balance estrogen, helps promote sleep and has a natural calming effect. It also normalizes libido, is a natural diuretic and a natural antidepressant. Abnormal levels of progesterone cause insomnia and contribute to bad moods.
Cortisol: This stress hormone can cause depression if levels rise too high or fall to far below average. High levels of cortisol can create agitation, increased belly fat, insomnia and sugar cravings. Low levels can be associated with inability to handle stress, extreme fatigue, low libido and mood instability.
Additional Contributors to Depression
Women with a history of mood disorders are pre-conditioned to experience hormonal depression during menopause. Surgical menopause, or a hysterectomy, also heightens the risk of developing depression because of the drastic, rather than gradual, drop in estrogen. Additional stressors like children, a high stress job, or smoking, also make menopause depression more likely in women. Stress is difficult enough for our bodies to handle, add to that hormone imbalances and drastic physical changes, and you have a recipe for disaster.
What are Bioidentical Hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are an exact replica of the hormones that are naturally produced by the body; matching the body's natural hormones molecule by molecule.
Perimenopause, menopause and adrenal fatigue almost guarantees a hormonal instability if no action is taken. Many people have been programmed to immediately ask their physicians about antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications without considering other options. At BodyLogicMD, our affiliated physicians explore the underlying issues to determine whether an individual is experiencing hormonal triggered depression, situational depression or adrenal fatigue brought on by stress. The ability for us to consider all of the additional information we have can allow for other treatment options.
Once your hormone levels have been accurately measured with blood, saliva or urine testing, and hormonal related depression is detected, your physician will have the necessary information to diagnose and begin treatment. If necessary, your BodyLogicMD affiliated physician will prescribe a bioidentical hormone therapy program to begin balancing your hormone and stress levels. In addition, proper nutritional counseling, supplements, exercise, meditation and massage are often suggested to help offset depression, lower stress and decrease cortisol levels.
Contact the BodyLogicMD bioidentical hormone doctors nearest you to schedule an appointment and learn more about how hormone therapy can help to regulate hormones and depression in women.