Partly cloudy

Posted by on May 25, 2008 in emotions | 0 comments

[Credit: ‘Depression.’ Bronze. 2000. Created by Susan Paloschi.]

[Special thanks to Susan Paloschi for permission to use this image. Please visit her website to see the rest of her works.]

Last week I posted information about a small study that shows that depression during the perimenopausal years can be alleviated by exercise. I believe that this topic is truly worthy of further exploration.

Seems that women entering the perimenopause have a two-fold higher risk of developing significant symptoms of depression than women who are not undergoing this transition. This is especially true of women already experiencing hot flashes. What’s more, this risk tends to occur in women who had never previously experienced any depressive symptoms. While fluctuating hormone levels may not be the only culprits, research suggests that they have a direct involvement.

So in addition to exercise, what can you do to counteract occasional or persistent feelings of depression? Firstly, take comfort in knowing that these feelings, like your declining hormones, are transient and may eventually dissipate. If symptoms are severe enough, a low-dose antidepressant can definitely help as well. In fact, I know quite a few women who have gone on antidepressants to help stabilize their moods during the perimenopausal period. A thorough evaluation by a gynecologist, followed by a session by a psychiatrist, can determine if a short-term of antidepressants may help.

If you prefer to go the herbal route, St. John’s wort might be of help.  St. John’s wort has been used for centuries for mood disorders, and while data suggest that it might not be effective for major depression,  there is solid evidence from clinical trials to support its use in milder cases. Be aware that you may not exeperience relief immediately since like many herbal therapies, it takes awhile to kick in. Again, it’s best to see a specialist in herbal medicine who can guide you with regards to dosage and regimen and also advise  on possible contraindications, if any.

I’m a true believer that the sun can shine through on partly cloudy days. When the blues hit, well, there is definitely some steps you can take. It’s all about finding an approach that works for you.

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