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Does menopause cause depression?

1️⃣ I want to invite you to take a minute and close your eyes and imagine what your first steps will be if I reply with a YES. Then, take another minute and imagine what you will do next if I reply with a NO. Either way, what you are currently experiencing is an invitation to ask for help. Please work with your health team to find and treat any depressed feelings…because you deserve to feel amazing 🦋


2️⃣ My next reply is about making sure we have clarity on definitions. 


Menopause is one day on the calendar; it's one nick on the timeline of life that signifies we no longer ovulate, no longer reproduce and no longer menstruate. 


Therefore, as a day on the calendar (like a birthday, or the day we get our first period, or get our driver's license), it is just that. 


“Menopause” (the status of whether or not you ovulate) can't possibly cause depression; hormone fluctuations and hormone decline can.


Hormone fluctuations & decline leading up to menopause (aka perimenopause) or following menopause (aka postmenopause) can cause depressed feelings. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of our hormones when cycles are regular can help us make a health plan for when they are not. See pages 14-16 in my book for a list of common experiences. 


NOTE: Depressed feelings associated with hormone fluctuations or decline are different from a clinical diagnosis of depression or depressive disorder, but there could be overlap.


3️⃣ A new onset of depressed feelings is common (ask me how I know!) but that does not mean you are meant to suffer or endure. Please reach out to your health team and ask for support. If I can help you prepare for that health conversation, let me know. 


And, consider this an invitation to review possible root causes; this is your invitation to get curious: 


One of the tools I use is this inverted pyramid:

  • It is designed to ignite curiosity

  • One level is not more important than the other, but they are presented in this order so we don't skip over, or miss an opportunity, to find and treat the root cause

  • Depressed feelings are complex and can be multi-factorial

  • I hope this helps you better prepare for your next health conversation

Questions to ask:

  • LIFESTYLE: How would I rate my quality of diet, exercise & SLEEP? Important to question alcohol use in this lifestyle level too!

  • STRESS: Am I practicing regular mindfulness (i.e. walking every day in nature); how is my stress level? (Join me Feb 21 for this important event on stress.)

  • NUTRITION: Am I missing anything nutritionally? For example, iron deficiency can show up as depressed feelings. It's common for women to be low in ferritin (the measure of iron stores in our blood.) And If you still have a period, just the fact that you bleed or maybe eat primarily a vegetarian lifestyle, can lead to iron deficiency. Magnesium is another important nutrient that impacts mood, and most North American adults are deficient.

  • OTHER CONDITIONS or MEDICATIONS: The level on the pyramid called “thyroid” actually refers to this question: Are there any other health conditions or even medications that are causing me to feel depressed? A thyroid condition is often overlooked and one symptom can be depressed feelings.

  • HORMONE HEALTH: And last but definitely not least: hormone therapy. It is important to understand how hormone fluctuations and decline might be influencing your mood. Then, depending on your age & stage, have an investigative conversation with your health team to inquire about the potential benefits of hormone therapy for you.

NOTE: Hormone therapy is not approved for the treatment of depression. However, we know hormone therapy can be very supportive of mood and sleep, among other benefits.


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