Midlife is a period of significant change for many women, marked by physical, emotional and hormonal transitions. It is not uncommon for women in their 40s and 50s to experience mood swings, irritability, and feelings of sadness during this time. For many women who go through this phase and feel like they may be depressed or may believe they are, all they may be experiencing is a major change in their hormones and body. On the other hand, feelings that could be blamed on hormones may be coming from real mental health issues, causing anxiety or even depression. At such a stage it can be difficult to determine exactly what you are going through. Let us understand the conditions as well as their symptoms and how to feel better in each case. Consult your doctor if in doubt and do not hesitate to seek professional guidance.
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, although the timing can vary greatly from person to person. During menopause, a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs, and hormone levels, especially estrogen and progesterone, drop. These hormonal fluctuations can lead to symptoms such as:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Irregular menstruation and eventual cessation of menstruation
- Sleep disorders and fatigue
- Dryness of the vagina
- Mood swings and irritability
- Brain fog and migraines
Not all women go through a problematic period during menopause, while on the other hand, many women face menopause-related complications for years. Either way, several lifestyle factors before, during, and after menopause can help ease this phase of change for you and your body.
Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest or joy in activities you once enjoyed. It can affect anyone at any age, including women going through menopause. Common symptoms of depression include:
- Constant sadness or feeling of emptiness
- Fatigue and low energy
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Sleep disorders (insomnia or oversleeping)
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Because of the overlapping symptoms, it’s common to feel confused about whether you’re going through depression or menopause. A medical professional can help you better diagnose your condition. A woman’s previous mental health history can also help in a better diagnosis.
Treatment for menopausal mood swings and depression can vary, but options may include:
- Lifestyle changes: Adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress reduction techniques can help alleviate mood disorders.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): For some women, HRT can be effective in managing menopausal symptoms, including mood swings.
- Therapy: Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT), can be helpful in managing depression.
- Medications: Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants when depression is diagnosed. They can improve mood and reduce other symptoms of depression.