The medical pendulum continues to swing back and forth when it comes to treating symptoms of perimenopause. Prior to the release of the Women’s Health Initiative in 2001, women were taking copious amounts of synthetic estrogen and progesterone for their symptoms.
Today, because of the study, more is known about the deleterious effects of too much estrogen in a woman’s body, namely, increased risk for breast and uterine cancer, heart attacks and stroke. As a result, physicians are seeking alternative treatments for perimenopause symptoms, which include less estrogen and more progesterone.
Even so, finding the right solutions for symptoms during perimenopause still feels like a crap shoot for most women, with the medical community basically throwing things at the problem to see what might stick.
Unfortunately, what has stuck for many of us, are antidepressants for mood swings and depression in perimenopause. But, is that such a good idea? Do antidepressants really help perimenopause symptoms? And if so, do the benefits outweigh the known risks and side effects?
These are just some of the questions you should be asking if you are considering taking antidepressants for mood swings and depression in perimenopause. And remember, it’s your body and your health. Where ever and when ever possible, make an informed decision.
SSRIs (aka Antidepressants)
With 24-hour news cycles and cities that never sleep, chances are you know what antidepressants are. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors work with the chemicals in your brain to inhibit the “reuptake” of serotonin, one of three chemicals in your brain that are primarily responsible for mood regulation.
The basic theory is, the more serotonin you have circulating through your body, the less moody and more stable you will be. While more serotonin is always good news when you’re having difficulty with mood swings, achieving it by way of antidepressants may not be.
Side Effects of Antidepressants
All drugs and medications come with a risk of side effects, some more serious than others. Depending on how sick you are, the perceived benefit of taking the drug may far outweigh the risk for side effects.
For many people, the benefits they receive from taking antidepressants definitely outweigh the side effects. But, for others, the side effects can be so severe they are simply not worth the risk.
Nausea, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, decreased sex drive, weight gain; fatigue and dry mouth are just some of the side effects experienced by many people who take antidepressants. Jaw-grinding, sweating, headaches and suicidal thoughts (especially in teens) are common as well.
Do Antidepressants Work for Perimenopause Symptoms?
Chances are, if you take antidepressants for perimenopause symptoms, you may feel better. Many women report feeling less down in the dumps and depressed when they take them. It will be up to you to decide if the benefits outweigh the side effects for you.
Bear in mind, however, that several American studies have cast doubt over the effectiveness of antidepressants in treating perimenopause symptoms. It might also behoove you to know that antidepressants were developed by drug companies and the FDA for patients with severe mental health conditions.
While perimenopause may make you feel like you’re going crazy, hormonal imbalance is not a mental condition. Besides, simple lifestyle changes, diet, exercise and restoring a hormone balance can help you achieve the same result without all the nasty side effects of antidepressants.
But, as with everything, these are highly individual and personal choices. Just make sure you make your choices with the best information possible. You are the one who has to live with them.
National Institute of Health.gov
The Perimenopause Blog.com