Menopause and Depression

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By, Lauren Kolacki

Menopause is a natural biological process in a woman’s life when the function of the ovaries is terminated. It is defined by the absence of menstrual periods for 12 months. The average age of menopause in America is 51, but can happen anywhere from your 30’s-60’s. This is a long, sometimes demanding, process where women are likely to experience a range of different symptoms such as hot flashes, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, weight gain, etc. In addition to these physi- cal changes; mood swings, irritability and in severe cases, depression may also accompany menopause.
Women with a history of mental illness are more vulnerable to re- current clinical depression during menopause. Clinical depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. Untreated depression in older women can increase their risk of developing other serious medical conditions, including heart attack and decreased bone mineral density.
No matter the severity of your depression, there are steps you can take to learn how to deal with your emotions. It is im- portant to reach out and stay connected. Talk to someone about your feelings, go for a walk with a friend, have somebody to confide in. Make sure to do things that make you feel good. This can be watching a funny movie, taking a long bath or meeting with an old friend. Get moving, exercise can release endorphins which enhance your mood. Most importantly, try to challenge your negative thoughts. Negative, unrealistic ways of thinking are what fuel depression.