Is it Depression or Perimenopause?

A mother was feeling confused due to her presenting symptoms. The mother identified feeling fatigued, depressed, irritable, insomnia, loss of desire, fuzzy thinking, and weight gain. Initially, I thought depression but due to her age I had to consider the option of Perimenopause. I advised mother to schedule a doctor’s appointment to rule out a hormonal imbalance. So what is the difference? And can they coexist? Here is some information that might be helpful if you find yourself in the same situation.

Definition of Major depression

Major depression: A disease with certain characteristic signs and symptoms that interferes with the ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities.

The characteristic signs and symptoms of major depression include loss of interest in activities that were once interesting or enjoyable, including sex; loss of appetite (anorexia) with weight loss or overeating with weight gain; loss of emotional expression (flat affect); a persistently sad, anxious or empty mood; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; social withdrawal; unusual fatigue, low energy level, a feeling of being slowed down; sleep disturbance with insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping; trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; unusual restlessness or irritability; persistent physical problems such as headaches, digestive disorders, or chronic pain that do not respond to treatment; thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts. Alcohol or drug abuse may be signs of depression. Disabling episodes of major depression can occur once or a number of times in a lifetime.

For more information, please visit : Depression

Perimenopause (premenopause)

Perimenopause is the phase before menopause actually takes place, when ovarian hormone production is declining and fluctuating, causing a host of symptoms.

Some clinicians maintain that perimenopause can last for as long as 5 to 15 years, while others refer to perimenopause as that period which is a 3 to 4 year span just before menopause. Either way, many women experience more symptoms during perimenopause than after menopause. Because this often happens at an age between 35 and 45, many women’s symptoms are overlooked or ignored by their healthcare providers.

Most premenopausal women experience changes in their menstrual cycle. When estrogen levels begin to drop, the follicular phase of the cycle may be shortened, and this can shorten the total cycle from 28–30 days to 24–26 days, resulting in more frequent periods. On the other hand, some women begin having longer cycles because they are not ovulating as frequently. These changes can be quite different on an individual basis. Additionally, this declining/fluctuating estrogen level can produce a host of disturbing symptoms: hot flashes, increasing vaginal dryness, sleep problems, mood swings, breast tenderness and many other complications.

Many clinicians believe this is a perfect time to begin judicious estrogen/progesterone/testosterone therapy because then the hormone supplements do not create an excess, but are simply replacing a failing internal supply.

There is a relatively small number of women who hardly notice any changes before menopause. Their periods just stop overnight with few, if any, symptoms.

Another small percentage of women experience significant, dramatic symptoms that, when left untreated, ultimately lead to surgical intervention. Many women find at this time too many physicians strongly urging surgery and failing to provide information about the alternatives to, and consequences of, hysterectomy.

The 35 Symptoms of Menopause

This list of common symptoms that occur during perimenopause and menopause was developed from the real-life experiences of hundreds of women. All symptoms were experienced by numerous women and were either cyclical in nature, or responded to treatments (both traditional and alternative) known to address hormonal imbalances.

1. Hot flashes, flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling (see note)
2. Irregular heart beat
3. Irritability
4. Mood swings, sudden tears
5. Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats)
6. Irregular periods; shorter, lighter periods; heavier periods, flooding; phantom periods, shorter cycles, longer cycles
7. Loss of libido (see note)
8. Dry vagina (see note)
9. Crashing fatigue
10. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
11. Feelings of dread, apprehension, doom (see note)
12. Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion
13. Disturbing memory lapses
14. Incontinence, especially upon sneezing, laughing; urge incontinence (see note)
15. Itchy, crawly skin (see note)
16. Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons (see note)
17. Increased tension in muscles
18. Breast tenderness
19. Headache change: increase or decrease
20. Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
21. Sudden bouts of bloat
22. Depression (see note)
23. Exacerbation of existing conditions
24. Increase in allergies
25. Weight gain (see note)
26. Hair loss or thinning, head, pubic, or whole body; increase in facial hair
27. Dizziness, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance
28. Changes in body odor
29. Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head (see note)
30. Tingling in the extremities (see note)
31. Gum problems, increased bleeding
32. Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor
33. Osteoporosis (after several years)
34. Changes in fingernails: softer, crack or break easier
35. Tinnitus: ringing in ears, bells, ‘whooshing,’ buzzing etc. (see note)

For more information, please visit : Perimenopause


2 Responses

  1. It is a good idea to find an MD who practices natural medicine or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine to test your hormone levels in your 30’s. It can help relieve some of the suffering early.

    Free Byrd

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