Menopause and Mental Health
Midlife is often considered a period of increased risk for depression in women. Some women report mood swings, irritability, tearfulness, anxiety, and feelings of despair in the years leading up to menopause. But the reason for these emotional problems isn’t always clear. Research shows that menopausal symptoms such as sleep problems, hot flashes, night sweats, and fatigue can affect mood and well-being. The drop in estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause might also affect mood. Or it could be a combination of hormone changes and menopausal symptoms.
But changes in mood also can have causes that are unrelated to menopause. If you are having emotional problems that are interfering with your quality of life, it is important to discuss them with your doctor. Talk openly with your doctor about the other things going on in your life that might be adding to your feelings. Other things that could cause feelings of depression and/or anxiety during menopause include:
- Having depression before menopause
- Feeling negative about menopause and getting older
- Increased stress
- Having severe menopausal symptoms
- Not being physically active
- Not being happy in your relationship or not being in a relationship
- Not having a job
- Not having enough money
- Having low self-esteem (how you feel about yourself)
- Not having the social support you need
- Feeling disappointed that you can't have children anymore
If you need treatment for these symptoms, you and your doctor can work together to find a treatment that is best for you. Depression during perimenopause and menopause is treated in much the same way as depression that strikes at any other time life. If your mood is affecting your quality of life, here are a few things you can do:
- Try to get enough sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. Keep you room cool and dark. Use your bed only for sleeping and sex. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, large meals, or physical activity before bed.
- Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Set limits for yourself, and look for positive ways to unwind and ease daily stress. Try relaxation techniques, reading a book, or spending some quiet time outdoors.
- Talk to your friends who are in perimenopause or menopause or go to a support group for women who are going through the same thing as you. You also can get counseling to talk through your problems and fears.
- Ask your doctor about therapy or medicines. Menopausal hormone therapy can reduce symptoms that might be causing your moodiness. Antidepressants might also help.
Additional Resources on Menopause and Mental Health:
Depression - This booklet provides user friendly information for the individual who may suffer from depression. It compares depression in women versus men, describes the symptoms of depression and offers information on methods of treatment.
Mental Health Services Locator - This internet site can help you locate mental health treatment facilities and support services in your state.
Emotional Aspects of Menopause (Copyright © The Cleveland Clinic) - This fact sheet describes some of the emotional changes of menopause. It also describes some of the medicines used to treat these changes.
Menopausal Symptoms (Copyright © Massachusetts General Hospital) - This web site contains information about women’s mental health with the approach and onset of menopause. It focuses on depression, and where to go to seek treatment.
Menopause: Managing Your Body's Changes (Copyright © Hormone Foundation) - This publication contains helpful information on how the changes of menopause happen and what you can do to help yourself through many common menopause symptoms.
Perimenopause, Menopause, and Depression (Copyright © The Cleveland Clinic) - This fact sheet describes perimenopause, menopause, and your options for coping with depression during this period in your life.
Women and Depression: Menopause (Copyright © University of Michigan Health System) - This publication explains why women may feel depressed during menopause. It also discusses treatment options and lifestyle changes that can improve the symptoms of depression.
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS
National Mental Health Information Center, SAMHSA, HHS
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
American Menopause Foundation
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)
= Indicates Federal Resources
Content last updated May 29, 2008.