Perimenopausal depression – an unrecognised problem
A high rate of suicide in women aged 45 to 54 years could be related to the biological changes of menopause – but fortunately most women with depression related to these changes do respond to treatment.
An article in the latest edition of Australian Prescriber explains how mental illness is very prevalent in women approaching menopause. This phase, known as perimenopause, typically occurs between 42 and 52 years of age.
Melbourne psychiatrist Professor Jayashri Kulkarni says research targeting the mental health of perimenopausal women is lacking. There is a gap in recognising and providing appropriate treatments for middle-aged women experiencing depression related to the hormonal changes of menopause.
“Perimenopausal depression can be hard to diagnose. Some symptoms are like those seen in depression in other groups of people, while other symptoms are unusual,” she says.
“However, it’s important to know that once the diagnosis is made there are many treatment options.”
Management of depression during perimenopause can include psychotherapy and other non-drug interventions like education about menopause, regular exercise, mindfulness techniques, yoga and dietary advice. There are also medicines available, such as antidepressants and hormone replacement therapy.
“The social and psychological costs of depression and anxiety in women are extraordinarily high, especially when you consider the impact on families, communities and workplaces where women have vital roles,” writes Professor Kulkarni.
“A tailored management approach is essential to maintain the quality of life for women experiencing perimenopausal depression.”