Physical Health Contributors
To win a battle, you must know your opponent. Perimenopause is sneaky because it does not directly cause depression; instead, it can trigger the onset of several symptoms that are linked to depression.
For example, perimenopause is associated with sleeping problems from hot flashes and overall discomfort at night, lower self-esteem from a changing body image and weight gain, and mood changes from surging hormones. Individually, these symptoms would not equate to depression, but together they push you towards depression.
Furthermore, the physiological changes of perimenopause often create higher levels of stress. When stress is higher, any task can be more time-consuming, more arduous, and more frustrating. Added distress can result in problems like:
- Changing appetite
- Low levels of energy and motivation
- Increased anxiety
- Reduced attention and concentration levels
- Higher irritability
Social Health and Situational Contributors
Beyond the physical changes directly caused by menopause, there are other life changes that occur during the time of perimenopause. These issues will add another layer of stress that nudge you closer to depression.
The social and situations contributors of depression include:
- Aging parents that may die or require special assistance.
- Children leaving home and empty-nest syndrome, meaning your responsibilities in within the home are changing.
- Changing relationship status and/or the lower sexual interest that usually accompanies perimenopause.
- Transitions with work if you choose to reinvest in your work or move in new direction due to changing needs at home.
- Changing social relationships.
All of these changes affect your identity. It can be easy to lose track of yourself, your needs, and your goals. With uncertain self-esteem, depression will move in with new intensity.
As depression continues to emerge, you will be well served to take active measures to prevent its progression. Since you will not be able to stop the course of menopause, you can take steps to preserve and improve your mood, energy, interests, motivations, and self-esteem.
Reinvest In Your Physical Health
The hormonal changes will be largely outside of your control. Your doctor may recommend some treatments, but the rest is up to you.
Maintain your physical health by improving your diet to feed your nutritional needs and increasing your exercise to flood your brain with helpful neurotransmitters. Since sleep is important and greatly affected, try to explore behavioral interventions like ice packs to achieve more comfortable, restful sleep.
Refine Your Relationships
As noted, your relationships are vulnerable during perimenopause. The relationships with your parents, children, spouse, and friendships may suffer from the added stresses of menopause.
You may gain new relationships from a return to work or lose relationships from your decision to change your career. At this point, it is valuable to take an inventory of your relationships to see which ones need extra care to flourish and which ones should no longer survive.
Focus your energy on relationships that are high quality rather than a higher quantity of relationships.
Reimagine Your Identity
Quite literally, menopause marks the end — the end of your menstruation and the end of your former self. This ending can strip away your identity as it strips away your self-esteem.
This can lead to isolation, and as you no longer know who you are and what you enjoy. There is another option, though. You can instead choose to rediscover, reinvent, and reimage your identity.
You can continue with characteristics that give you pride and satisfaction as you foster new interests and attributes.
Part of your new identity will involve deciding what you like and what you don’t like to do for fun. Do you like going to the movies after a quiet dinner at home, or do you like to skydive after launching yourself over a flaming school bus on a dirt bike?
Just because you spent so much time doing certain activities does not mean that you must continue unchanged. Since so many changes are coming with perimenopause, this is the perfect opportunity to redefine your ideas of fun.
Is It Depression?
It may be challenging to differentiate depression from sadness, but it will be an important distinction for you to make. There is danger in overestimating and underestimating your feelings that could lead to unwanted experiences and reactions.
Major depressive disorder is a clinically diagnosable condition that is marked by someone experiences at least five symptoms of depression more often than not for at least two weeks. Depression is a serious condition that can only be diagnosed by a mental health professional.
From there, your mental health expert can recommend treatment options that can improve your menopause-related depression through a series of therapeutic interventions and/or the use of medications. Either one or both combined can do much to aid your recovery.
The link between depression and menopause may not be apparent at first, but menopause’s effect on your physical health and the social health transitions contribute to mood disturbances that can build to depression. Understand what you are up against and decide to retaliate.
You cannot stop menopause, but you can limit the reach of its negative influence. You can be happy with menopause!