Mom's Emotional Health: Post Menopause and the Empty Nest Blues
These are the "golden years." You've almost launched a home full of children into independence, and may soon be retiring from your 9 to 5 job. You should be grinning from ear to ear like you're starring in a commercial for the AARP. So what if you're not?
It's not at all uncommon for women in this phase of life to struggle with the symptoms of depression. The most recent research shows that women in the premenopausal stage (which can last for 8 to 10 years before your period actually ceases, signaling menopause) are up to four times more likely to suffer with depression. Experts believe that this spike in the incidence of depression is related to fluctuating hormone levels associated with menopause.
Depression symptoms can include irritability, weepiness, fatigue, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, and withdrawal from family and friends. If you suffer with one or more of these symptoms for a period of two or more weeks, your depression may be serious enough to require treatment. Gynecologists are more in tune with the real impact of menopause-related depression, and are more likely to offer treatment alternatives to women than in previous decades. Treatment options include the use of antidepressant medication, hormone replacement therapy, or talk therapy.
Premenopausal and menopausal women with no prior history of depression or mental illness may be reluctant to accept a diagnosis of depression for their symptoms. But even the healthiest, happiest women can suffer a bout of serious depression during this unique stage of life.
The good news? Post-menopausal women are far less likely to feel depressed than premenopausal women. So take comfort in the fact that this challenge is most likely a temporary one, and one that you and your physician can manage in the meantime. Learn more about the link between menopause and depression from this article on WebMD.
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