Perimenopausal Depression

Are you suffering from hot flashes, night sweats, or cranky moods? Feeling hopeless, apprehensive, or deep sadness for prolonged periods? If so, you may be suffering from perimenopausal depression.

Depression is more common among women than men. Biological, life cycle, hormonal, and psychosocial factors that women experience may be linked to women’s higher depression rate. Researchers have shown that hormones directly affect the brain chemistry that controls emotions and mood.

Perimenopausal symptoms may be the cause of depression, and for some, it may ever be clinical depression.

According to the North American Menopause Society:

A depressed mood –This is a normal, brief period of feeling blue or sad that is commonly experienced and rarely requires treatment.

Depression as a symptom – This type of depression may be due to a wide variety of medical or psychological problems, or to intense reactions to life events (such as divorce, losing a job, death of a loved one). It is usually short-term and most often does not require treatment, although it can progress to clinical depression.

Clinical depression — This is a pathologic disorder believed to result from a chemical imbalance in the brain. A clinical (major) depression requires treatment.

Women who had severe PMS in their younger years may experience more severe mood swings during perimenopause. There are many factors that can cause an increased risk for depression from your genes, to having a prior history to taking certain medications.  Certain endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism, or other illnesses, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, are also associated with depression.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

Mild depression – feeling blue or sad – can be dealt with cognitive therapy, psychotherapy, meditation, Yoga, getting enough sleep, a positive outlook, healthy eating, incorporating appropriate supplements, acupuncture, and exercise. Exercise boosts your endorphins and can lift your mood. Engaging in new activities may help, such as taking Yoga or Pilate’s class, or getting out and trying new things, all while enlisting the support of your family and friends.

If you have lingering or worsening symptoms, you may need medication.  Depression can be a malfunction of your neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin, which is the feel good neurotransmitter. Medicines can be enormously helpful, although you will want to incorporate lifestyle changes as well.

Dr. Wendy Klein, menopause expert and co-author of “The Menopause Makeover:”

If you are still feeling very stuck and sad, talk to your clinician so you can get a referral to a good psychotherapist. If you need medication, in the broader context of menopausal symptoms, there is some evidence that hormone therapy can augment treatment and help people who are on anti-depressants feel even better. That is a decision for you and your clinician.

According to the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN):

The risk of major depression is greater for women during and immediately after the menopausal transition than when they are pre-menopausal.

If you suffer from depression whether mild, moderate or clinical, get support and visit your health care provider to discuss your options.

By Staness Jonekos

Co-Author, “The Menopause Makeover”

Posted in emotions, homepage

Are You Confident?

Thank you for participating in our recent Self-Confidence Survey.

The results

80% of women had a negative body image
42% like who they are
63% felt confident that they had something they could do better than anyone else
56% feel they have something beautiful about themselves
100% see the beauty in others
50% are happy with their lives
52% felt they have a purpose
56% feel secure in who they are
What does this information mean to women?

Most women have a poor body image, but we see the beauty in others.

8 tips to improve your self-confidence and body image

Make self care a priority
Exercise most days of the week
Eat nutritious foods and watch your portions
Practice self love
Don’t compare yourself to others
Make pampering time
Do not let the media define beauty
Practice a positive attitude
When we are healthy we feel more secure. When we are secure, we can feel confident. When we feel confident, anything is possible.

Posted in emotions, Uncategorized

Support Women’s Health

This is a dangerous time for women’s health. The last year has seen unprecedented attacks on women’s access to care and on the fundamental right of every woman to make her own medical decisions — not just in Washington, but in states around the country.

Just last year, 36 states enacted a record 135 provisions limiting access to reproductive health care.

We need to stand up today and show our broad strength and support for women’s health around the country. Please join the National Online March today.

Despite the setbacks, 2011 also proved that we can achieve tremendous victories when we stand together and speak with one voice. Not only did we secure no-cost birth control for women, but we’re seeing some of the effects of the Affordable Care Act take hold. We ended the discriminatory practice of charging women more than men for health insurance, and soon tens of millions of women will have access to additional coverage.

That’s why it’s so important that we take a stand and show our support for the full range of women’s health care. All of our marchers’ messages will be packaged and delivered directly to members of Congress, governors and state legislators so they know we’re watching.

I hope you’ll pick up a virtual sign and march with me today!

How can YOU make a difference?

Support Planned Parenthood and the women, men and teens who rely on their efforts to protect access to affordable health care.

For more information on what Planned Parenthood actually does – click here.

Posted in emotions

How to Cope with Stress

When you are stressed out

  • It is difficult to lose weight
  • You may experience migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, and back and joint pain
  • You feel gloomy and tearful
  • You have a hard time concentrating
  • You are constantly irritable and cranky
  • You feel hopeless
  • Damage can be caused to your immune system, making you are susceptible to infections and viruses
  • You have a harder time going through menopause

How to cope with stress

  • Identify stress triggers, and resolve relationship issues
  • Try stress-relieving activities, such as yoga, meditation, or tai chi
  • Regular exercise releases endorphins, making you feel better
  • Schedule fun activities
  • Make time for your friends; support is important
  • Eat healthfully – avoid a diet heavy in carbohydrates
  • Pamper yourself a little bit—take a hot bath, or treat yourself to a manicure or massage
  • Get in touch with your spirituality
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Slow down and take time in the day for yourself
  • Find a relaxing new hobby
  • Start reading more, and watch a little less television
  • Free up your schedule – start saying no to others, and yes to you
  • Make a point of laughing every day
  • Don’t always answer your cell phone
  • Make fun plans for the weekend
  • And if you have a partner, a little affection and intimacy goes a long way – make sure you are satisfied

For many of us, the menopause journey can be stressful.  It’s especially critical that you manage stress during menopause, so that you can take care of yourself.  Once you handle stress triggers, managing menopause symptoms is possible.

Whether they are suffering from midlife issues, lifestyle changes, hormone fluctuations, social pressures or personal expectations, it is no surprise that women going through menopause are emotional!  Make time daily to pamper yourself, and get rest.  You are going through a major shift in your life.  Everything you know is being altered, emotionally and physically.

If you cannot manage the emotions and stress in your life on your own, seek professional help.  A therapist can help with many issues in your life, relationships, or past that may need to be addressed.  Your practitioner can discuss the possibility of hormone therapy or the use of antidepressants.  Some people find that the herb St. John’s Wort can help counteract depression and stress, but if you take St. John’s Wort, be sure to inform your doctor.  This herb is often not compatible with other medications, and drug interactions can be dangerous.

Posted in emotions

Stress and Menopause


Dear Crabby,

It’s been a rough year suffering from miserable menopause symptoms. I have gained a lot of weight, I am always cranky, my skin has started to drastically age, my hot flashes hit me every few hours, and I feel like no one understands what I am going through. I am not in the “giving” mood this year, freaking out that I won’t get through my holiday “to-do” list, and feeling stressed out.
Bah, Humbug from Minnesota

Dear Bah Humbug,

The responsibilities during the holidays can be difficult with 99 percent of all women experiencing stress and panic attacks this time of year. Throw in one of the biggest transitions of your life, menopause, and it is no surprise you are freaking out, not in the “giving” mood, and feeling stressed out.

First, let’s address your physical menopause symptoms. Weight gain, irritability, skin changes and hot flashes are all symptoms of fluctuating hormones. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and possible treatments. Once you decide on a program to treat your symptoms, you will hopefully start to feel better. Going through physical changes can be stressful.

Second, menopause usually happens as the natural aging process kicks in. If you’ve practiced a lifetime of poor eating choices and lack of exercise, it’s unforgiving during menopause. Now is the time to start eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, and dedicating time to pampering.

Regarding your skin, treat yourself to a holiday makeover. Visit your favorite make-up counter. A new cleansing/moisturizing program may restore your radiant complexion.

Visit your practitioner to discuss symptoms. Start eating a healthy diet and exercising. Make time to pamper yourself.

If you practice a few of these Stress-Free Holiday Tips you may just survive your “to-do” list and the holiday season.

10 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday
1. Keep expectations reasonable. Planning parties and decorating are stressful tasks. Instead of planning a big holiday party, plan a day to celebrate the holiday at the spa with your closet friends. Keep your schedule open to attend a few parties, not give them. Instead of decorating your home and a Christmas tree, put a lovely wreath on the front door, place a small-planted evergreen in the living room and enjoy red candles around the home.
2. Communicate with your loved ones. Let them know you are going through changes, and that you plan to get some rest this holiday and would appreciate their support.
3. Limit your alcohol intake. Holiday parties are often centered on drinking. Try to “nurse” one glass of wine for the evening. Remember alcohol is loaded with extra calories. I ask for “water on the rocks with a twist” – it is fun, always gets a reaction, is calorie free and keeps you hydrated.
4. Quiet time. Plan a half hour a day to sit quietly. Find a spot in your home in a comfy chair. Close your eyes, and take long deep breathes. Breathe in thinking of good health and happiness and breathe out stress and frustration.
5. Eat a healthy diet. Eat more vegetables, whole grains, fruits and low-fat foods. You will have more energy.
6. Start exercising. Take a 30-minute walk. Not only will you burn calories, you will feel more relaxed.
7. Manage your time. Cut your to-do list in half this year.
8. Send e-cards this year. It is fast, easy, free and fun. This will save you time, money, paper and postage.
9. Have a sense of humor. Dealing with relatives over the holidays can be stressful. If relatives are visiting you for the holiday, ask them to book a hotel for their stay. Keeping your home a sanctuary during your menopause transition is important. If a relative is driving you crazy, try to be cheerful and laugh it off.
10. Keep a budget. Dealing with extra holiday expenses is also extremely stressful. To buffer this a bit, try making homemade gifts or let your loved ones know that this year the gift theme is ‘to spend less than $20 per person per gift’. Don’t forget, shopping on-line will save time and frustration at the malls.

Remember menopause is a natural transition. The holidays can be a joyful time if you embrace your changes and make a few holiday stress-free adjustments to your agenda. The greatest gift you can give…. is to take care of yourself, and when you do, you will want to give to others.

A less stressed Dear Crabby wishing you a Happy Holiday!

Write to Dear Crabby and get advice about your menopausal symptoms.
If you have:
• Hot flashes
• Itchy skin
• Breast tenderness
• Mood swings
• Memory lapses
• Fuzzy thinking
• Night sweats
• Sleep problems
• Loss of libido
• Dry vagina
• Irregular periods
• Headaches

Dear Crabby has tips to make your life easier.
She wants to hear from YOU.
Send your questions to: DearCrabby@MenopauseMakeover.com

Posted in hormones, emotions