Depression is in illness that occurs when the brain produces an inadequate amount of serotonin, which is the chemical responsible for the regulation of moods. For women who are at or near menopause, the risk can increase due to the wild fluctuation of hormones that is occurring within her body. If you are a woman over the age of 40 who is suddenly experiencing symptoms of depression that you have never felt before, the hormonal changes of menopause or pre-menopause may be to blame.
While most cases of severe depression have a medical cause, it can also be brought about by our responses to life events. Stress, diet and fatigue can also be major contributing factors. In any event, it is important to know and recognize the symptoms of depression so you can get the help you need to feel better as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Depression at Any Age:
- Mood that can be characterized as persistently sad, nervous or on edge or an overall feeling of emptiness.
- A loss of pleasure in activities you once enjoyed.
- May completely avoid sex.
- Feeling unusually irritable or restless.
- Frequent crying throughout the day or shorter, more intense bouts of crying spells.
- A feeling of worthlessness that alternates with feeling guilty for no apparent reason, helpless to do anything for yourself or others and hopelessness about the future.
- Having no desire to get out of bed in the morning and sleeping often throughout the day, or the opposite extreme of having insomnia and waking up too early each morning.
- Changes in appetite which result in weight gain or loss.
- Feeling as though you are moving in slow motion. Constantly fatigued even if you get enough sleep.
- Persistent thoughts of death or suicide or actual attempts at suicide.
- Extreme difficulty paying attention, recalling details or making simple decisions.
- Physical symptoms with no apparent cause that do not respond to treatment.
How Menopause Aggravates Depression
If your life was already stressful, the physical and emotional changes that typically accompany menopause may be sufficient to send you into a full-blown state of depression. In menopause, the hormone estrogen can fall to very low levels, causing a sudden dip in mood. Before you allow yourself to be pumped full of both anti-depressants and hormone replacement drugs, it is important to research natural alternatives to depression for women of menopausal age.
Natural Remedies to Fight Depression
Exercise. It been medically proven that the physical act of exercise releases serotonin in your brain, which can lead to an immediate elevation of your mood. If you can’t envision yourself even getting out of bed, know that even a moderate amount of exercise can have this natural anti-depressant effect. Make small exercise goals and keep track of the way you feel when you are finished exercising.
Proper diet. Analyze your diet or see a nutritional counselor to learn where you may have deficiencies that are leading to your low moods. After you have made some changes, be sure to follow that up with regular vitamin supplements.
Sunlight. If you live in a cold climate that doesn’t see a lot of sunlight during the winter months, you may want to invest in artificial lighting to make you feel better.
Spending time with others. Depression is an isolating illness, and one way to fight back is to spend time with people you love, even if it is a huge effort initially.
Eliminate stress. Evaluate the stress in your life and devise ways you can eliminate it or get additional help.
Carrie Tillworth is a contributing writer at various magazines and blogs.