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Dr. Tanveer Aujla

Menopause can cause depression. Here are symptoms to watch out for

A woman must take care of her emotional health during perimenopause (around menopause) as any major life change during this period can lead to depression.

Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycle and occurs after you don’t get periods for 12 months. A transformative time for women, it usually happens between mid 40s to early 50s. Menopause is not an easy time for women and often comes with a series of hormonal changes. A lot of physical changes and emotional changes are seen in women due to change in levels of female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

A woman must take care of her emotional health during perimenopause (around menopause) as any major life change during this period can lead to depression.

“It’s well recognised that major life changes can bring on depression such as children leaving home, divorce, etc around the time of the menopause. At this time, women may experience sleepless nights due to hot flashes and sex may become resentful because of vaginal dryness, possibly hampering your sexual life,” says Dr. Tanveer Aujla, Senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida.

Studies have suggested that a negative attitude towards menopause is more likely to worsen symptoms like mood changes and hot flashes. Hence it is important to maintain a positive attitude towards life during this phase of life.

Lack of a disciplined routine or habits like smoking can make perimenopause difficult for some women as they may face adverse symptoms due to unhealthy habits.

“Not only your attitude but also your lifestyle plays a key role in impacting the symptoms you get around the menopause. For example, smoking and lack of workout and disciplined routine around menopause are linked to more hot flashes; it is also linked with an increased risk of depression at any age. Other common impacts of menopause are mood swings – feeling angry, irritable or getting upset easily,” says Dr Aujla.

How to know if it’s depression

It is important to distinguish between the feeling of just being stressed or having mood swings and clinical depression.

“Major depression is a condition that occurs due to chemical imbalance in the brain, it is marked by a depressed mood most of the time, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships. Fluctuating hormones during perimenopause might be associated with this imbalance,” says Dr Aujla.

Signs of Major Depression

If you have been experiencing some of these signs and symptoms every day for at least two weeks, you may be experiencing clinical depression and should see a healthcare provider.

* Little interest in doing any activity

* Feeling of hopelessness or feeling low all the time

* Insomnia

* Impaired concentration, indecisiveness

* Restlessness or feeling slowed down

* Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

* Alterations in appetite.

* Feeling of being a failure

If you have any of these symptoms and suspect that you may be depressed, you must take medical consultation immediately.