Depression and Menopause

By Dr. Keli Samuelson

Depression occurs in an estimated 30 million people at some point in their lifetime. The condition affects men and women of all ages. However, women are at greater risk to develop this condition. There is not one single cause of depression; rather, there can be several interactions that may contribute to depression. Depression is not a personal weakness. It can not always be ignored hoping it will go away.

Heather a fifty-year-old women came to the office concerned about her unhappiness. Heather had no history of depression nor did she have a family history of it to her knowledge. She came from a family of all boys who never showed any signs of depression. Her parents were in good health and very socially active in the community.

   Symptoms of depression vary from person to person. Some people eat too much, some eat too little. Some people sleep all the time while others can not sleep at all. The important thing is that you are evaluated to rule out the contributors like genetics, biochemical, environmental and psychosocial factors. In Heather’s case, after evaluating her, she was showing strong signs of menopause being a major cause of her depression. Lab work was run, her medical history taken and physical exam was preformed. All indicators showed that she was in excellent health.

   As we proceed with treatment and dealing with the underlying hormonal balance, she started to feel better. As Naturopaths we have natural products that can help increase serotonin in the brain to help lift depression. We only treat mild to moderate depression and must refer out when we have severe depression.

In Heather’s case I treated her hormonal condition with botanicals and specific essential fatty acids. She saw improvement but still wanted to feel better, that is when I added in a supplement that would help increase serotonin. There are several products as Naturopaths that we may choose. In this case I had Heather take an amino acid supplement called SAMe-(s-adenosyl-Methionine).

   After several days she saw a marked improvement and after one month had much improvement. Also, we changed her diet to eating more grains, fruits, veggies and eliminating white sugar products. She already had an excellent exercise routine so encouragement to keep this routine is all that was necessary. Many women will see a shift with their mental emotional health with hormonal changes. The change can be from month to month in women who have regular menstrual cycles. It can also occur with pre-menopausal and menopausal changes.