Grief & Grieving

Post image for Study Says Estrogen Fluctuations Linked to Depression in Menopause

Well, now here’s something I could have told ya, researchers, if you would’ve just asked me!

A study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry (oh Lawd, not the Department of Psychiatry again!) at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), has determined that estrogen fluctuations (namely low estrogen) in menopausal women puts them at a greater risk for depression.

According to the article published at MedicalNewsToday.com, between 26 and 33% of women will develop significant depression during perimenopause, when hormone fluctuations are at their worst, and during actual menopause, when estrogen is generally at its lowest.

Researchers also noted that the fluctuations of estrogen also leads to greater anger, irritability, and feelings of rejection, in addition to depression.

An interesting aside in the study, researchers also noted that:

When sensitivity was combined with stressors such as divorce, or bereavement, the women were especially likely to develop clinically significant symptoms of depression”

And glory hallelujah I can attest to THAT!  Since my divorce 3 years ago, and the death of both of my parents back-to-back, I’ve struggled with sadness and depression so severe, there have been days (weeks even) where I struggled to get out of bed.  I can’t count the days, weeks, and months, that I’ve been curled up in the fetal position wondering if I would EVER laugh again, feel happy again, or see light in my life again.

coping with grief and depression

And given that I’ve also been menopausal for nearly 5 years now (read: very low estrogen), it’s not surprising to me at all that I’ve had an “H” of a time staying out of depression. I realized a few years ago that my depressive moods, in addition to the horrible brain fog, short term memory issues, and my exacerbated aches and pains (later diagnosed as fibromyalgia) were linked in part to the fact that I had very little estrogen production in my body.

Those were the primary issues which drove me to begin using the Vivelle Dot Patch.   I knew, of course, that simply using bioidentical estrogen was not going to solve all my problems.  It certainly wasn’t going to undo my divorce or bring my parents back.  Those were issues I would continue to deal with over time in the grief process.  But, the estrogen did help in significant ways.

If the Medical Community Would Just Listen to Us!

It seems that the medical community is always catching up to what women going through perimenopause already know. I’m certain that it’s no surprise or shock to any of you that fluctuating estrogen levels contribute to depression and mood swings in perimenopause.  I mean, if physicians would simply listen to us when we seek help for our symptoms, by gosh, they would already know this, right?

estrogen-chalkboard

But, alas, they do not.  Sometimes they do.  But, mostly not.

The study concludes that based on the findings, future research should “assess the value of interventions, such as cognitive therapies to mitigate the impact of stressful events, as well as the use of estrogen therapy during menopause.”  

A conclusion, especially the “estrogen therapy in menopause” that I can certainly get behind.  In the meantime, however, I will glory in the day that physicians will listen to women, and save all those millions of dollars of research funding to tell them what we already know, and perhaps invest those dollars into better education in the field of perimenopause, for the next new batch of eager physicians graduating from medical school.

If you wish to read the article which references the study and provides citations as well, you may download a PDF copy here. 

Be well, this too shall pass!

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Children, Menopause & A Mother’s Heart

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Update: This post was originally written in 2012.  It has been updated for republishing in 2016 It was back to school for my newly minted teen daughter this week. After one very busy summer, she packed it in and headed back to the classrooms for her last year of middle school.  It’s hard to believe that […]

February 3, 2016 CONTINUE READING →

Perimenopause: It’s not for the Weak or Faint of Heart

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Update: This post was originally written in 2012.  It has been updated and edited to reflect the current position and opinions of The Perimenopause Blog in 2016 I recently gave a Q & A interview for a women’s health blogging site. The interviewer asked me what the top three pieces of advice are that I would […]

February 1, 2016 CONTINUE READING →

The Changing Season Called Perimenopause

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Update:  This post was originally written in 2008, and migrated to The Perimenopause Blog in 2009.  It has been updated and edited.   So, here we are into May and I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting for spring.  In the Deep South where I originally hail from, I’m certain  they are enjoying […]

January 10, 2016 CONTINUE READING →

Dear Magnolia….My Husband Takes My Loss of Libido in Perimenopause Personally

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I received this reader comment a few weeks ago, and was so moved by it, that I wanted to feature it in this installment of “Dear Magnolia.”  The reader posted under the pseudonym “Heartbroken.” And perhaps that is why I was so touched by it.  I could hear the sorrow and pain in her words, […]

March 28, 2015 CONTINUE READING →

The Wounded Woman: Hope and Healing for Those Who Hurt

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Okay, this book is not exactly about perimenopause.  Well, it’s not at all about perimenopause.  It’s a book about emotional wounds, pain, trauma, loss, and sorrow in life, which affect women in very unique ways. That is not to minimize the suffering and pain of men who experience loss, because they certainly do.  And as a mother […]

March 2, 2015 CONTINUE READING →

Dear Magnolia……Does Anybody Really Give a Crap?

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Today’s Dear Magnolia post is from Lisa. Lisa is grieving. Yes, she’s also experiencing other symptoms of perimenopause, namely,  anxiety, depression, and other symptoms related to estrogen dominance.  But, she’s also struggling with grief . Grief is the part of perimenopause that no one talks about.  Well, not very much. Grief doesn’t sell, I guess. You can’t […]

August 22, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

I Have a Tendency to Neglect Myself

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Do you? I haven’t written as regularly as I’ve wanted to for quite some time now.  A very long time, truthfully. It is primarily because I have been grieving.  Oh, how I have been grieving – the loss of my father, then my divorce, then the loss of my mother. I know we all face loss […]

June 17, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

2013: Bring it On

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2012 is coming to a close, and like you perhaps, I am reflecting on the past year, and anticipating the next. I love this time of the year because I like new beginnings.  I like having fresh opportunities to start again, to change what needs to be changed, improve what needs to improve, and reach […]

December 17, 2012 CONTINUE READING →

Getting Through Perimenopause: Step by Step

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“You don’t have to see the entire staircase…….just take the first step.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. I ran across this quote not too terribly long ago.  Given that we are recognizing Dr. King’s life today (or yesterday, depending on when you get this post) and his contributions to civil rights in our country, I thought […]

January 16, 2012 CONTINUE READING →

35 Symptoms of Perimenopause: Grief and Depression

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Okay, technically grief is not usually mentioned as a symptom of perimenopause. But, it should be. Because, believe it or not, good old fashioned mourning and an overwhelming sense of loss (aka, grief) is something that many women experience when they enter perimenopause. It usually comes out of left field too.  I mean, most of […]

December 11, 2011 CONTINUE READING →

Perimenopause: Yes, it’s Real and No, You’re Not Going Crazy!

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Feel better?  I could have used someone telling me that about 10 years ago when I walked right into one of the fiercest hormonal battles of my life. First of all, I had never heard of peri-anything.  Menopause?  Yeah.  I had heard of that.  My mom called it “the change,” and I knew that sooner […]

March 22, 2008 CONTINUE READING →