The beginning stages of Menopause (also known as perimenopause) are a life-altering experience for every woman. During menopause, the body’s hormones fluctuate at a rapid pace, and it can be overwhelming to navigate its various phases. Hormone shifts from menopause affect women’s mental health, mood, and overall quality of life. In some instances, menopause can even trigger depression. In a study conducted by Women’s Midlife Health, it was reported that about 28.7% of menopausal women met the criteria for depression.
Why do women experience menopausal depression?
During menopause, depression is caused largely due to the shake-up of the body’s hormones. The hormones that control a woman’s menstrual cycle have a significant impact on serotonin – a chemical responsible for the feeling of happiness. When hormone levels decrease, serotonin levels drop in the brain, which can lead to sadness, irritability, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease during menopause, which triggers mood swings and causes difficulty to cope with various situations. Thankfully, there are helpful practices to reduce depression and get you back to feeling yourself.
Best practices to manage menopausal depression
The first thing to do is find support from a medical professional. Your doctor is your greatest resource and the best person to determine the proper course of action. Schedule a visit and let them know the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Consider joining a support group with other women who are also experiencing depression from menopause. It may be helpful to surround yourself with others you can relate to and collaborate with. If support groups are not for you, that’s okay! Think about confiding in one close friend who you can connect with on a regular basis. It does our minds a world of good to talk through our struggles and receive encouragement from those we love and trust. No matter what you decide, remember that you don’t have to go through this alone.
A Healthy Diet and Exercise
What we eat plays a pivotal role in our physical and mental health. Foods that are rich in micronutrients are excellent to add to your diet, as they provide you with the vitamins and minerals your body needs. While you don’t need large quantities of these nutrients, the small amounts you do consume are important to your overall health and well-being. Read more here about the foods you should add and subtract from your daily diet.
Exercise is also critical when navigating through menopausal depression. When you exercise, your body releases “feel-good” hormones called endorphins that are responsible for boosting your mood and promoting mental health.
Here are a few endorphin-releasing exercises that you can choose from:
- Weight training
Find an exercise you enjoy and stick with it – your mental health will benefit from the exercise!
Keep Your Hobbies
During periods of depression, many people experience a lack of interest in things they once found enjoyable. Do your best to find hobbies that will keep your brain stimulated.
Here are a few brain-stimulating activities:
- Reading is a great hobby to pick up if you have menopausal depression. People who experience depression often feel isolated and alone. Reading books (especially fiction) will allow you to temporarily escape and focus on another character’s life and experiences. Skip reading the daily news and focus on positive topics!
- Memorization is also an excellent activity to keep your mind active and alleviate symptoms of depression. Choose your favorite poem or scripture and practice reciting it. When you have breaks throughout the day, you’ll find yourself reciting what you have memorized instead of focusing on situations that might affect your thoughts and mood.
- Get outside! Being outdoors has a positive correlation with our mental health. Find an outdoor activity that you enjoy and soak up some Vitamin D.
Some outdoor activities you can engage in:
- Take a walk with a friend or significant other
- Start a garden with your favorite fruits and vegetables
- Bike to your favorite cafe for a cup of coffee
- Go on a light jog in your neighborhood or on your favorite trail
- Hike in the mountains and take in the gorgeous views
- Drive out to the beach and enjoy a day watching the waves
No matter what activity you decide to do, keeping your brain stimulated will help boost your mood and keep you in a healthy state of mind.
Visit Exceed for a Hormone Evaluation
Understanding how your hormones communicate with the rest of your body is vital, especially during menopause. During this time, hormones can quickly take over and leave you feeling that you have no control over your body and emotions. We encourage you to schedule a visit at Exceed to get your hormones tested and determine what role they are playing in your menopausal depression. From there, our specialists can guide you through hormone management and get you feeling back in charge.
Depression from Menopause is difficult. Your body is going through major changes; it’s okay to take time to adjust to your new norm! It is important to show yourself patience and grace. Take deep breaths and remember that you are not alone.
Schedule a visit at Exceed to get your hormone levels checked. Connect with us online or give us a call at (901) 312-7899.