Chronic depression: how it affects menopause

Chronic depression or persistent depressive disorder is an ongoing, long-term form of depression. It causes a constant negative, pessimistic feeling, and a loss of interest in normal activities of daily life. You may feel hopeless, become unproductive, have low self-esteem, and have a general sense of inadequacy. These feelings can last for years and affect your performance (Mayo Clinic, 2021). It is a mood disorder that affects seven out of ten women during menopause. This is due to the decrease in hormone production and the symptoms you can experience. Women are more prone to psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, irritability, or sadness (Medical Newsroom, 2020; NIMH, 2020). Here are the signs and symptoms of chronic depression and some tips on how to prevent it during menopause.

Signs and symptoms of chronic depression

The main symptom of this depressive disorder is usually a state of despondency, gloominess, or sadness almost every day for several months. Its intensity changes over time and it is accompanied by other signs that may come and go for years. In addition to causing considerable impairment, these symptoms are present almost all the time and may include (Mayo Clinic, 2021; MedlinePlus, 2020):

  • General lack of interest.
  • Feelings of emptiness.
  • Feelings of hopelessness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lack of self-love and feeling useless.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Constant anger.
  • Decreased productivity.
  • Isolation.
  • Feelings of guilt and concern about things in the past.
  • No appetite or eating in excess.
  • Too little or too much sleep.

Chronic depression: how it affects menopause

Recommendations for preventing chronic depression during menopause

According to the Office on Women's Health (OASH, 2018), your risks of depression are greatest during the time around menopause. This can occur because of hormonal changes, menopausal symptoms, or both. Therefore, during the loss of fertility or changes in your body, you may experience chronic depression. It can significantly affect your quality of life. Some recommendations that can help prevent it. The main ones are (Mayo Clinic, 2021; NIMH, 2021; OASH, 2018):

  • Try to get enough sleep and keep a regular bedtime and wake-up time. Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep is linked to depression.
  • Get at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity such as walking or exercise. This can improve your mood.
  • Eat healthy foods, limit alcohol, and avoid nicotine.
  • Interact with other people and talk to family and friends about how you are feeling so that they can help you through difficult times.
  • Try to postpone major life decisions until you feel better.
  • Take steps to manage stress, increase your resilience and raise your self-esteem. Set limits on how much you can take on.

Warning signs to look out for

If you have intense and long-lasting feelings of sadness, loss of interest, or pleasure in activities every day for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from chronic depression. These are warning signs that require immediate medical attention. It is best to talk to your primary care physician about them or seek help directly from a mental health professional (NIMH, 2021). Chronic depression is associated with feelings of sadness and a state of despondency that is present most of the time. It is a disorder that affects a large proportion of women during menopause and can disrupt their performance and quality of life. For this reason, when a warning sign appears, it is best to seek advice from your Doctor. References National Institute of Mental Health . (2020). Depression in women: 5 things you need to know. National Institute of Mental Health . (2021). Depression. Mayo Clinic. (2021, July 29). Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia). MedlinePlus. (2020, September 7). Persistent depressive disorder. Office on Women's Health . (2018, May 22). Symptoms and relief of menopause. Medical Editor. (2020, July 1). Depression affects seven in 10 women during menopause.