The purpose of this paper is to discuss the onset of depression in women during the peri-menopausal stage of menopause. The paper begins by discussing the stages of menopause and the life changing events that come along with it and is followed by the definition of peri-menopause and depression. Sections that follow discuss the physical and psychological symptoms of peri-menopause. The paper will also discuss various studies and research into the onset of depression during the peri-menopausal stage. The paper concludes with treatment options both medical and spiritually for a woman facing peri-menopause.
Depression in Peri-Menopausal Women
There are many transitions that all women face in their lifetime and one of the most stressful, confusing, and emotional transitions are entering peri-menopause. Menopause, to many women, is a symbol of becoming older, less desirable, loss of social role, an empty nest, and other insecure stages of life. These life-changing stages and the experience of hormonal ups and downs cause peri-menopause to seem like childhood puberty (Ballinger, Cobbin, Krivanek, & Saunders, 1979, p. 192). “Peri-menopause, or menopause transition, is the stage of a woman’s reproductive life that begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen”(WebMD, 2012). The average age, according to a study conducted by Treolar, “for entry into the peri-menopausal transition was 45.1, and the age range that included 95% of the women was 39-51”(as cited in Speroff, 2000,p. 376-377). The transition into peri-menopause subjects a woman to fluctuations in reproductive hormones and is characterized by but not limited to irregular menstrual cycles, insomnia, hot flashes, and mood swings. “According to Sichel and Driscoll (1999), this time of life may last as long as seven to ten years, or longer although some women may also have shorter peri-menopausal transitions”(as cited in McGonagle, 2005, p.9). Symptoms
Symptoms for peri-menopausal depression are similar to those of general depression symptoms. These symptoms include loss of interest or pleasure, low self-esteem, insomnia, fatigue, and difficulty in concentrating. “During peri-menopause, several symptoms may arise and can prevail until post-menopause”(Pimenta, Leal, Maroco, & Rams, 2011, p.1). Not only does a woman in peri-menopause have physical symptoms she may also be affected psychologically Women in the peri-menopausal stage of menopause will also experience psychological symptoms due to the hormonal ups and downs. These psychological symptoms include depression, anxiety, mood swings, and irritability and memory loss. Mood change is the most common symptom for which women in menopause transition seek treatment. According to Parry (2010), almost fifty percent of those women seeking treatment are clinically depressed and over one third experience their first episode of depression during peri-menopause (p.44). This paper will discuss the aspect of depression in women in the peri-menopausal stage of menopause. Depression is defined as a “mood disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-esteem, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration” (WHO, 2012). According to Schmidt, Roca, and Rubinow (1998), “the term peri-menopausal depression is used to describe the onset of depression, either major or minor, in association with a change in menstrual cycle function or endocrine evidence of the peri-menopausal (i.e. elevated FSH)”(as cited in McGonagle, 2005, p.42). “The estrogen withdrawal theory explains depressive symptoms as resulting from a sustained decline in ovarian estrogen in tandem with spiking secretions of follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) by the pituitary gland” (Brandon, Shivakumar, & Freeman, 2008, p.41). Risk Factors
Women that have...