Middle age is a time of great change for a woman, both physically and emotionally. It is the time when you may have to deal with your grown-up children, take care of your ageing parents, tackle financial difficulties and keep your relationships going. It is also the time when you will have to cope with the changes in your body, especially the effects of menopause. It is therefore no wonder that these challenges may make your days a roller coaster of emotions.
However, do not blame your emotional highs and lows on menopause alone, as studies have shown that the level of reproductive hormones in perimenopausal women with and without mental health conditions are the same. So if you find yourself constantly battling low feelings and depression do not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional. Some of the signs of depression are given below.
- Constant sadness, anxiety, restlessness and irritability.
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness.
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex.
- Decreased energy and fatigue.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
- Insomnia and change in sleeping patterns.
- Overeating and weight gain or appetite and/or weight loss.
- Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts.
- Physical symptoms like headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain that do not respond to treatment.
Talk to your healthcare professional if you have experienced one or more of these signs for a week or longer. Treatment includes medication or therapy and sometimes a combination of both. Keeping the following points in mind will help you to make the most of your treatment.
- It does not help to have preconceived notions about medications. Antidepressants work differently in different people. If a certain drug worked well for your friend, do not assume that it will work for you too. Trust your health care professional and talk to her if your medication doesn’t seem to be helping.
- All antidepressants take time to work. Do not expect an immediate change in your mood. It might take somewhere between 10 days to two weeks before you see an improvement in your mood.
- Estrogen therapy alone may not be a treatment for major depression. But studies point to the fact that some forms of estrogen therapy taken along with antidepressants may help the medication to work better.
- The most important therapies used to treat depression are interpersonal psychotherapy or IPT and cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT. These therapies are as effective as medicines to treat mild to moderate depression.
Lifestyle changes can also help you in your fight against anxiety and depression. Regular exercise or physical activity has the ability to improve mood and put off depressing thoughts. Supportive relationships and better social interactions can also protect you from depression thereby improving the quality of your life. Keep track of your emotions and enjoy your middle age.