Perimenopausal depression is one of the most common mental health issues impacting us, our friends and our family today. In this guide we aim to debunk the myths of perimenopausal depression and arm you with the tools you need to identify the signs and better understand how to cope.
Transitioning through the perimenopause and menopause can be a challenging experience for many as they adapt to the physical and mental changes. Sadly for some, perimenopause can come with an unwelcome partner… depression.
This month, Dr Radha Modgil, a medical doctor, and experts from the Mental Health Foundation are shining a light on a light on perimenopausal depression, how to recognise it and ways you can help yourself and others.
‘As the name suggests, perimenopause describes the time when your body starts transitioning towards the menopause,’ explains Dr Radha. ‘During this time you may experience hormonal changes, which directly impact ovulation, causing irregular periods, hot flushes and changeable moods.
‘So, what has this got to do with depression, you might ask? Well, fluctuating hormones cause mood swings, low spirits and anxiety and studies have linked perimenopause directly to depression and the worsening of existing depressive symptoms.’
Perimenopausal depression explained
‘While perimenopause and menopause are not mental health conditions in themselves, the hormonal changes that come with them can trigger mental health conditions or make existing ones worse. Not all women are affected in this way, but if you notice changes in your demeanour it’s worth exploring.’
What are the signs of perimenopausal depression?
‘Perimenopausal depression symptoms can be similar to other forms of depression, but it’s important to keep a check on how you’re feeling and take note if you don’t feel quite yourself,’ adds Dr Radha. Look out for…
- Mood swings
- Feeling tearful for no reason
- Heightened anxiety
- Trouble sleeping
- Reduced concentration levels
How to help yourself and others cope with perimenopausal depression
‘Although seeking medical advice for perimenopausal depression is highly recommended,’ says Dr Radha, ‘there are a number of simple lifestyle tweaks you can try that may help improve symptoms. These include…
- ‘Regular exercise. As well as the feeling of escapism and giving your mind something else to focus on, exercise boosts your serotonin levels, which is your feel-good hormone, helping to lower stress levels and boost mood.
- ‘Mindfulness and mindful breathing can help to reduce any symptoms of anxiety and keep negative thoughts in check. There are an abundance of apps available to guide you through an array of breathing exercises.
- ‘Enjoy a healthy, balanced diet and avoid skipping meals to keep your physical symptoms in check and blood sugar levels – and mood – on an even keel. Protein-rich foods containing the amino acid tryptophan, such as turkey, oats and legumes, help to boost your serotonin levels thus lifting your spirits.’