More than 50 percent of women experience some perimenopausal symptoms, including hot flushes, night sweats, and sleep disturbance, before reaching the menopause. A recent article from Aetna Intelihealth notes that many women may also experience depression. In a study form Dr. Claudio Soares, women with clinically confirmed perimenopause were interviewed:
Of the 101 women studied, nearly one-third suffered from a depressive disorder. Of those, half were experiencing major depression, while the other half were experiencing a milder condition called dysthymia. Dr. Soares reminds us that fluctuations in reproductive hormones are associated with depression at other points in the reproductive cycle. For instance, women may experience depressed or irritable mood in the premenstrual part of their cycle — which, depending on severity may be called either premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). In addition, some new mothers develop symptoms of depression in the days, weeks or months following the birth of their baby (the postpartum period).
While antidepressants are commonly used to treat depressive symptoms occurring in perimenopausal women, some may benefit from treatment with estrogen.