Hormone Therapy Treats Menopausal Mood Swings & Depression
When people think of menopause, the first thing that comes to mind is usually hot flashes and night sweats. But far less talked about are the mental or cognitive side effects of menopause. In addition to the physical symptoms of menopause, many women also experience emotional and psychological effects. These may include unexplained sadness, mental fogginess, mood fluctuations and even depression.
In fact, statistics have shown that the risk of depression increases from two to four hundred percent during the menopausal transition. Yet many women’s physicians fail to address, treat, or take steps to prevent this very prevalent (and often preventable) problem.
How Hormone Imbalance Affects Mood
When you stop to really think about it, it should be no surprise that the hormonal changes of menopause would have a substantial effect on the brain. It is well recognized that puberty – the onset of adult hormone production – is a roller coaster of emotions for young adults! And the cyclical hormone changes of an adult woman’s menstrual cycle are well known to result in “PMS” – a condition that can be characterized by intermittent irritability, anger, sadness, and anxiety.
So, it stands to reason that the hormonal changes of menopause would also have a dramatic impact on a woman’s mental state. Yet, for decades, the male-dominated medical community took no steps to help women with the emotional impacts of their transition.
Less estrogen and progesterone are produced every year as a woman ages – until they finally stabilize at too-low levels around age 55. And, during perimenopause and menopause, a woman’s female hormone levels are erratically fluctuating from day to day – and even from one minute to the next.
Serotonin is a mood-regulating neurotransmitter. It is the primary chemical in the brain that stabilizes one’s mood, and their feelings of well-being. Serotonin enables brain cells to communicate with each other and is sometimes called the “happy chemical”.
Estrogen and progesterone are strongly related to the production of serotonin in the brain. So, fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone cause serotonin production disruption, leading to mood swings and other emotional reactions.
What do Menopausal Mood Swings Feel Like?
The hormonal mood swings of menopause actually start quite early during a woman’s transition – often during the first stages of “perimenopause” in her early 40s. So, many individuals do not realize that the mental symptoms from which they are suffering are actually menopause related.
Some women find themselves laughing with their friends one minute, and then in tears a few minutes later. Other women may feel mentally exhausted, physically fatigued, emotionally overwhelmed, have memory problems, and even feel out of control. In more extreme cases women may wonder if they are “going crazy”. And, during the menopause transition, there is significant increased risk of new-onset depression, as well as a relapse of depression in women with a prior history.
Treating Menopausal Mood Swings
Sadly, because the mental effects of menopause often are unrecognized or misunderstood by women and their physicians, many doctors immediately jump to prescribing mood altering pharmaceuticals, such as antidepressants. This is a shame, because it only puts a band-aid on the symptoms – without addressing the underlying cause of the problem. And, antidepressants and other mood-altering drugs typically come with a host of negative health effects.
But recently, scientific studies have begun to examine the effects of hormone therapy – specifically estrogen replacement – on mood, mental state and depression in menopausal women. Naturally restoring a woman’s estrogen and progesterone to health levels can help rebalance the brains chemicals for more stable moods, and greater feelings of well-being and happiness.
One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry also found that hormone therapy is an effective way to help ward off peri- and postmenopausal depression in some women. In that report it was revealed that perimenopausal and early postmenopausal women who were given hormone replacement were less likely to experience symptoms of depression, than women in the study who were given a placebo.
Hormone Therapy for Menopause Mood Swings | Phoenix
While mood swings are a part of menopause for many women, the good news is that hormone replacement therapy can help prevent them in many cases – and manage or minimize them when they do occur.
If you are a woman in your 40s or 50s who is noticing mental changes, mood swings, changes in emotions, or new-onset depression, the culprit may be the hormone decline or fluctuations of perimenopause or menopause. If this is the case, restoring and rebalancing your hormones may be the answer. Customized bioidentical hormone therapy can help women get their body and their brain back in balance, so that they can live their best life!