Depression and menopause do often go together. There are several reasons for this. Some are related to physical changes women are going through during this time, and others are related to mid-life issues such as our response to getting older and how we feel about being an older woman in a society that treats us as expendible.
Symptoms of depression and menopause could include changes in sleep, weight, or appetite, fatigue, hopelessness, overwhelming sadness or grief, loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy or a general reduction of pleasure. Some of these symptoms could indicate depression, or they could just be menopause symptoms. Fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, and brain fog or confusion are also menopause symptoms. I am not necessarily talking about clinical depression or major depression. I am not a doctor. If you are feeling so bad that it is interfering with your work or other important areas of your life, you need to seek medical help.
If you do have clinical depression, you can still use natural treatments for depression, but you need to discuss them with your doctor first. Interestingly enough, most depression resolves on its own. But if you don't want to wait for that, or if it's caused by something like a lack of sleep or low thyroid, it will not resolve itself. There are many natural remedies that can help you feel better. There are also many herbs that can help with insomnia. If those don't work well enough, you can always use bioidentical progesterone, which definitely will work if you are in the menopausal transition.
Reasons for Depression and Menopause
Think about it – your hormones are fluctuating wildly, you may not be getting enough sleep, your kids may be leaving or close to leaving home, leaving you with an empty nest. This could be enough to make anyone feel depressed. Add to that the potential for low thyroid, or burned out adrenal hormones from all the stress we live with today, and it's almost a sure thing.
If your testosterone is low (yes, women have testosterone too, and it falls to much lower levels in menopause), depression and fatigue are two of the symptoms, along with low libido and an inability to build muscle. Adding bioidentical testosterone can help with that. You will need a prescription for that however, because it is not sold over the counter.
Depression and Menopause – Natural Treatments
In addition to vitamins, fish oil, herbs and other supplements, there are quite a few different ways to lift depression. Some of these are listening to music, using acupuncture, aromatherapy, flower essences, exercise, light therapy and yoga.
The first step is to make sure your diet gives you all the nutrients you need. Your brain cannot function well without proper nutrients, and our diets have become so full of empty calories it would be nearly impossible to get these from your food.
Well-functioning brain chemistry requires adequate hormones and nutrients. Many natural treatments for menopause depression work simply by added needed nutrients to your diet. If you have trouble getting adequate nutrients from your diet, you can supplement with vitamins specifically needed for depression and menopause, such as B vitamins, vitamin D and/or E, and magnesium.
If stress is contributing to your depression, two excellent herbs can help your body's response to stress: Siberian ginseng and American ginseng. I am not talking about minute amounts found in "energy drinks." I am talking about a capsule taken two or three times a day. Oregon's Wild Harvest sells very high quality herbal supplements at reasonable prices.
If your depression is related to kids leaving home, or having trouble with getting older, flower essences may be your natural treatment of choice. Flower essences can help on an emotional and spiritual level when we are having trouble adapting to change.
Exercise is a proven way to increase brain chemicals that make you feel good. Do not be discouraged by people urging you to spend an hour or even a half hour a day exercising. Start with five minutes a day, three days a week until you are ready for more.
Yoga works with depression and menopause by helping you relax and rejuvenate. It also helps balance your hormones by bringing blood flow to glands and tissues. A few simple yoga stretches can make a huge difference in how you feel.
I have barely touched the surface of natural treatments for depression and menopause. I have mentioned just a few general approaches with a couple of specific suggestions. If you are looking for natural remedies for menopause depression, you will quite certainly find them.
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