DEPRESSION AND MENOPAUSE
By Dr. Keli Samuelson ND
An estimated 30 million people will suffer with depression at some point in their lifetime. While it affects people of all ages, women are at greater risk of being impacted.
Symptoms of depression vary from person to person. Some will eat too much, others will eat too little. Some people sleep all the time while many cannot sleep at all. Simply ignoring it, hoping it will go away, often just prolongs the suffering. It is important to remember that depression is not a personal weakness. Depression can be treated. It begins with taking steps to learn the cause. Each patient is different and is there typically not one single cause. Often there are several interactions that may contribute to its appearance. The important thing is for the person to be evaluated to rule out potential contributors like genetics, biochemical, environmental and psychosocial factors.
Heather, a fifty-year-old woman, came to the office concerned about her unhappiness. We started with taking her medical history, running some lab work and a physical exam was preformed.
Heather had no history of depression nor did her family, at least 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.
All indicators showed that she was in excellent health. However, her evaluation showed an underlying hormonal imbalance, suggesting that menopause could be a major factor in her depression.
As a Naturopath, I focus on using natural products that can to treat patients. In Heather’s case, I wanted to help increase serotonin in her brain to help lift her depression, so I treated her with botanicals and specific essential fatty acids.
On her next visit, she reported some improvement but still wanted to feel better. That was when I added an amino acid supplement called SAMe-(s-adenosyl-Methionine).
It took only several days for Heather to feel a marked improvement and, after one month, she felt even greater relief. Buoyed by her success, she agreed to change her diet, eating more grains, fruits, veggies and eliminating white sugar products. Heather already had an excellent exercise routine so only minor encouragement to keep this routine up was all that was necessary. Today, Heather is enjoying life, healthy and happy.
Many women 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.
Understanding the impact of hormones and knowing how to keep them balanced, Naturopaths can provide relief for those suffering the impact of depression. However, be aware that we can only treat mild to moderate depression and must refer patients with severe depression to specialists.