Perimenopause may trigger the first episode of depression. Women in their late 40s are often in this hormonal stage called “perimenopause.” This is when the body may still have a menstrual period, but that the menstrual cycles are irregular because their estrogen is waning. Perimenopause can cause nearly a decade of hormonal instability.
Women are at increased risk of developing depression during this perimenopausal transition. In fact, studies have shown that 45 – 68% of perimenopausal women have elevated depression symptoms.
Other risk factors that increase the risk of perimenopausal depression include
- psychosocial changes like adverse life events,
- low social support,
- interrupted sleep,
- black race, and
- financial difficulties.
Perimenopause is often a time of great transition: caring for aging parents, launching their adult children into life, or facing changes in marital status. Your physician may perform a Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) to help diagnose a mood disorder or may perform a test to show life scales with mood items like the Menopause Rating Scale and the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Scale.
Some suggestions are psychotherapy, exercise, medication to help with mood changes (like SSRIs). Botanical and or complementary/alternative approaches for treating menopausal depression have not statistically been shown to help. Whatever treatment works for you is the best treatment. See your physician for help.