Women are often at increased risk for depression when they reach midlife. The reasons are unclear, but scientists think it may be related to a personal or family history of depression, and/or to the life stressors and role changes that come with middle age.
Although menopause is often believed to contribute to the onset of depression, research actually indicates that depression is more likely to occur in the period leading up to menopause, called the perimenopausal years. It is during perimenopause that estrogen levels gradually decline, which some studies suggest may bring on depression.
The most common symptoms include:
- Two or more weeks of depressed mood
- Decreased interest or pleasure in activities
- Change in appetite
- Change in sleep patterns
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Extreme restlessness and irritability
- Thoughts of suicide