Post-Partum Depression and Menopause

COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION & MENOPAUSE

  • Am I clinically depressed or could my moodiness be caused by depression?
  • My life is in transition – I’m stressed out at work, my kids are gone and I don’t care about sex. My friends think it’s from menopause. Could they be right?
  • My wife and I just had our first baby. Instead of feeling happy she’s miserable. It’s been very difficult for both of us. How do we know if it’s post-partum depression?

What the experts say: Post-Partum Depression and Menopause

Hormonal fluctuations can caused by mood and body disturbances from adolescence through menopause. Some women are more sensitive to these fluctuations than others. Research shows that some depression may be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the body.

ABOUT POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION

Following child birth the severe drop in certain hormones can cause temporary depression or anxiety termed “post-partum depression.”  In the past this was treated as a purely emotional problem. Now it’s recognized that in some women, effective treatment for a hormonal imbalance, can be treated both medically and psychologically. The media has raised awareness of the potential dangers of letting post-partum depression go untreated. It is imperative that if you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of PPD that you immediately seek a professional evaluation. PPD is treatable and the enormous weight of depression and helplessness can be significantly improved.

ABOUT MENOPAUSE

Menopausal symptoms can be identical to clinical depression and the diagnosis is often confused. If the symptoms have never existed before and if your life-stressors are relatively normal, there is a greater likelihood that this is being caused by hormonal changes and you must see a professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Peri-menopause is that period of time when the body is approaching menopause and can last up to ten years. The menstrual period becomes irregular as the hormone levels are changing, causing some women to experience PMS-like symptoms. Menopause actually lasts one day; occuring after a woman has had no periods for 12 consecutive months.  After that, a woman is considered post-menopausal.

WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION & MENOPAUSE

The emotional and physical changes you are experiencing can be disturbing and cause you to feel out of control. Many girls and women have the feeling that their emotions are “all over the map” when they’re having a period, having a baby, or going through menopause. Fortunately, the hormonal changes that can cause these emotional problems are not permanent and may be easily resolved with proper professional help.

For many women menopause can bring up complicated emotional responses. In years past society did not discuss menopause and our life spans were shorter, so menopause signaled the beginning of “old age.” Times have changed. We talk about it, we know that it’s a natural passage for all women (like puberty), and that it is not a disease. Menopause is certainly not the end of life; it is only the end of a woman’s ability to conceive. In fact, many women report feeling better and more sexually healthy after menopause.

Several therapists at Birmingham Maple Clinic specialize in working with women moving through life transitions who may be experiencing feelings of depression or loss of sexual desire, related to menopause or other hormonal changes.

For more information visit the North American Menopause Society.