Menopause can be a rollercoaster for women as they experience new sensations that are completely foreign to them. During a period before meno(pause), a.k.a. perimenopause, symptoms can develop that make it hard to enjoy the things that used to bring you joy. Hormonal shifts can stir up a whole host of symptoms, including hot flashes, insomnia, mood fluctuations, and yes, even depression.
Hormones can play a big part in the development of depression in menopausal women. Fluctuations in hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can influence the role of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a brain chemical the promotes feelings of well-being and happiness. When hormone levels plummet, so can the release of this vital chemical, leading to moods swings and triggering bouts of irritability, anxiety, depression, and even major depressive episodes.
When we talk about depression, it’s more than just feeling sad… Clinical, depression can include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness
- Unexplained hopelessness
- Irritability over things that used to roll off your back
- Changes in eating
- Changes in sleep
- Overwhelming fatigue and lack of motivation
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Difficulty making decisions and absorbing information
- And even thoughts of suicide which if you are having, please contact a medical professional immediately -there is always help xo
That coupled with a very stressful stage of life for perimenopausal women, including career pressures, aging parents, health conditions, and an empty nest – can all converge to greatly impact your emotional wellbeing.
When working with patients during their transition, it is important to come from a place of understanding. You are not crazy! This isn’t something that can just be willed away or is just “in your head”. In 20+ years of practice, I have seen it ALL and know that this can be a difficult time for patients, but you are not alone in this.
Like I have said time and time again, this is a time to PAUSE. You have an entire lifetime of ups and downs to reflect on and decide on a new, happier path moving forward. It is a rare time in your life to audit what works, what hasn’t and chart a path to a life YOU want.
And I will be here the entire way to give you tools to ensure your greatest success! From lifestyle changes, to nutritional intervention, to supplementation, to hormone therapies, we have a whole host of tools in our arsenal to get you back to the life you want, without tears and/or a loss of HOPE.
One place I like to start is with sleep. Many women, when coming into my office for the first time, don’t even list insomnia as a chief complaint that they are looking to resolve on their intake forms. They tell me about their low energy, fatigue, irritability, but they commonly fail to let me know that they have only been getting a few hours of sleep a night for such a long time, that it doesn’t even register that this is a major deficit in their lives.
Did you know that poor sleep can make you up to 10x more likely to become depressed?
With that being said, here are 10 things you can do to get back to sleeping through the night!
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule – 10pm-6am is optimal.
- Use the bed only for sleep and sex – keep the electronics out!
- Cut down on caffeine and if you do have some, make sure it is before noon!
- Be physically active – our bodies are meant to move.
- Limit daytime naps. Prolonged napping can disrupt your natural sleep cycle and prevent you from feeling tired enough to fall asleep.
- If you use tobacco in any form, quit… LIKE NOW! Nicotine makes it harder to fall asleep, plus all the other harmful things it does to your body make it a must, to get rid of. Acupuncture, herbs, and alkalizing the body are two things I have found extremely useful in helping women quit.
- Limit & use alcohol cautiously – last night, I went to a Kava bar, and that was the best most relaxing nightcap ever! See pic below 🙂
- Improve your sleep surroundings – make sure the room is pitch black to encourage melatonin production.
- Turn off your screens! Or at least wear your blue blockers!
- Try to avoid taking sleeping pills – these do not get to the root problem and are addicting.
If you follow me on social, you might have seen a video reviewing additional steps to help with your sleep. You can check it out here!
I know you are struggling, and this is why I am so happy to have an opportunity to get you moving back towards joy and happiness during your transition. My new, FREE webinar reveals how to implement healing philosophies that have supported me & my patients’ healing over the last 20 years in clinical practice!
If you are working through depression, anxiety, and other symptoms of menopause, I urge you to take 1 hour and check out this video.
You are not alone, and there is help!
P.S. – I am reminded of a quote that sticks with me even today. I don’t even know if I can remember who said it first, but “People don’t fake depression. They fake being okay. Remember that and be kind.”
Together we can make a difference for those who are struggling, now more than ever. If you know anyone who could benefit from this work, I would be so honored if you would share it with them.