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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is depression normal for menopausal women?

    I have become severely anxious and have bouts of extreme lows since becoming menopausal , my hormones are all over the place and I find it hard to go on with day to day life at times. Is there anything I could take to help with this?
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    Jean Hailes for Women’s Health is a leader in women’s health, supported by funding from the Australian Government. We provide trusted and easy-to-understand information to … View Profile

    Mild depression or other mood changes may occur during the time of physical and erratic hormonal changes (the perimenopause) but severe depression is not caused by menopause nor is it more frequent at menopause. Women who experience early menopause (e.g. after a hysterectomy) are more likely to experience clinical depression (apparently due to the sudden change in hormones and/or the illness that caused surgery to be needed), but when it comes to a natural/'normal' menopause it seems that oestrogen and testosterone changes probably only account for a small percentage of cases of depressed mood and don't result in clinical depression.

    Women who've had a history of depression and/or PMS before their menopause may be more sensitive to the changes taking place at menopause. It may also be that symptoms of menopause have a secondary effect on mood: Many women find they're exhausted, can't think clearly and feel more negative because their hot flushes have kept them up at night; and some menopausal symptoms (hot flushes, sweating, 'crawling skin') are similar to symptoms of anxiety, so women can become confused between what is menopause and what might be anxiety.
    If you're worried, discuss your symptoms with a health practitioner or psychologist for clarification about what may be causing them.
    Also, check out Jean Hailes' webpages on depression & anxiety, emotional wellbeing and managing symptoms of menopause.

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