During menopause, women face an increased risk of mental health problems and disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and bipolar disorder. Women with a prior history of these disorders are at the highest risk of experiencing them again or may experience a worsening of symptoms in existing conditions. Somewhat unusually, women experience a second wave of onset schizophrenia between the ages of 45-50 years old that isn’t experienced in men. Typically, onset schizophrenia is seen in young adults and decreases with age, with the only increase being seen is women undergoing the menopausal transition.
Hormone imbalance is the suspected cause of all perimenopause symptoms including these mental health issues, although it’s not fully understood exactly why these symptoms occur ? It’s mostly thought to be due to declining estrogen production that is thought to influence the neurotransmitters responsible for depression related symptoms. Although it would be helpful to know why these mental health conditions increase during menopause, the body is a complex machines and these secrets may not be revealed for quite some time. For right now, the best that we can do is be aware of the risks and symptoms of mental health problems and reach out for help when we notice these symptoms in ourselves or others.
Here are some of the potential symptoms of depression
Sleeping for long periods of time, Wanting to just stay and bed all day, Decline in personal agitation, Uncontrollable or constant crying, Increased agitation, Homicidal thoughts, Suicidal thoughts, Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, Problems with decision making, Loss of concentration, Problems sleeping, Weight loss, Changes in appetite may increase or decrease, Loss of interest in life and previously enjoyable activities, Very low mood
Some of these problems such as mood swings, trouble concentrating and trouble sleeping can also be related to just menopause, but these symptoms when combined with a very low mood and a loss of interest in life and activities can indicate an underlying depression.
So, if you’re a woman going through the menopause transition and feel that some of these symptoms may relate to you, it’s important to discuss your symptoms with a doctor. Over 20% of women in menopause suffer from depression, so it’s a fairly common health problem, but one not all women may be aware of. You should not ignore your symptoms or hope they will pass, no one should feel like they’re all alone or like life if spiraling out of control or just not worth living, there is help out there, but you need to take the first step and recognize that you may be having a problem.