Perimenopause and Clinical Depression
By definition, clinical depression is an imbalance of the brain chemicals, serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, over an extended period of time. While both men and women can become clinically depressed, women have an especially difficult time with it during perimenopause because of hormone fluctuations. Also known as neurotransmitters, serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, play a key role in regulating mood.
Antidepressants and Perimenopause
Many physicians prescribe antidepressants for perimenopausal women. While antidepressants, also known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), can provide some measure of relief from depression, they also come with a whole host of undesirable side effects and a great deal of skepticism as to their long term effectiveness.
Treating the Whole Person
Like many health issues, depression in perimenopause, is not an isolated problem that can be simply treated with antidepressants. Other factors such as diet and exercise, exposure to enough sunlight, sleep, and dealing with the mind also need to be taken into consideration as well. In fact, provided there are no underlying serious mental health issues, depression in perimenopause is much better treated with as little pharmaceutical intervention as possible.
Healthy Hormone Balance
One of the first things a woman can do to help with depression in perimenopause is to restore a healthy hormone balance back into her body, preferably with more natural, bioidentical hormones.
Diet, Exercise, Sunlight and Sleep
A healthy diet, plenty of exercise, regular exposure to sunlight and deep, restorative sleep are also essential in improving mood and breaking the cycle of depression. Complex carbohydrates, whole grains and lean proteins not only help stabilize blood sugar (which also helps to improve mood) but they naturally raise the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain.
Cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking increases oxygen rich blood to the brain which helps to lift the fog of depression, and if you are walking outside, you will have the added benefit of exposure to sunlight which also increases serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.
In addition, regular exposure to sunlight during the day will help the brain restore the body’s circadian rhythm, an internal biological clock which regulates sleep, among other bodily functions. Together with a consistent sleep schedule, diet, exercise and exposure to sunlight will help to improve and promote deep, restorative sleep. All of which will work together in synergy to help break the cycle of depression.
Finally, taking a mental inventory of our thoughts and thinking patterns is imperative if you want to rid yourself of depression. Certainly, the change of perimenopause is a time that causes many women difficulty. The reality of middle age and a different time of life settles in.
Not surprisingly, this change is not always easy to embrace. However, how we choose to view it will have a direct impact on our moods. A gloomy outlook and chronic negativity will only serve to undermine all of efforts at health and wellness. So, it’s important to realize the power of our thoughts and how we perceive our life’s circumstances when it comes to dealing with depression.
Drug-Free Relief from Depression
It seems counter-intuitive that one should do the very things that perimenopause and depression make difficult. But, the truth is, a healthy diet, regular exercise, sunlight, good sleep and an effort at a positive outlook combined with bioidentical hormone therapy can provide drug-free and lasting relief from depression.