Menopausal Depression and Increased Suicide Risk

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What brings a big smile to your face?  For me, it’s enjoying breakfast and coffee, then hopping on my bike for a ride. What’s yours? Shoe shopping, lunch with a girlfriend or a fun date night? If those treasured activities no longer light up your life, you could just be feeling low, or it might be something more serious like menopausal depression.

Although there’s no definitive link between celebrity designer L’Wren Scott’s suicide and menopausal depression, she was 49 years old and the tragedy spurred a fellow celeb to hop on Twitter and get the conversation rolling about menopausal depression and whether women are really paying attention to the signs. Recently, a study by the CDC showed that suicides in middle-aged persons (ages 35-64) increased by 28% over a 10-year time frame.  It’s probably no coincidence that those high numbers reflect the transition of vibrant baby boomers into middle and older age.

If you really don’t feel like your “normal” self and are struggling to find any joy in your day, please take the time to be evaluated and treated by a knowledgeable specialist. If these feelings of depression are happening in partnership with perimenopause or menopause, step back and take stock. It could be menopausal depression creeping in alongside the hot flashes and insomnia.

Know the Triggers

Many women experience depression during the transition from reproductive years into menopause beginning long before your last missed period. Menopause can effect not only our bodies but our emotions and brain functionality.  Hormones impact endorphin levels, so when your brain neuromodulators of estrogen and progesterone are up and down so is your sense of well-being.

Lack of those feel-good hormones lead to mood swings and in turn can result in your family heading for the nearest exit!  Signs of depression can include one or more of  the following: sadness, loss of energy, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, loss of enjoyment, difficulty concentrating, uncontrollable crying, difficulty making decisions, irritability, increased need for sleep, insomnia or excessive sleep, a change in appetite causing weight loss or gain,  and thoughts of death or suicide or attempting suicide.

Menopausal Depression

Many menopausal women can tell you that mood swings are often accompanied by anxiety and insomnia. That’s a pretty clear invitation for depression to join the party.

Here’s the difference: feeling blue sometimes is common, but if you’re continually feeling hopelessness, emptiness, and persistent anxiety, it is time to locate a good menopause specialist.  A great way to prepare for your first visit is to chart your symptoms so you’re ready to share some hard evidence when you go in.  Remember, during perimenopause and menopause you can find that your memory is not as sharp as it used to be.  My Menopause Symptoms Chart is an easy and simple way to help you communicate to your specialist exactly how you are feeling.  Start tracking those symptoms tonight!

Hormonal Testing and Treatment

Talk to your specialist about doing a hormone panel.  Fortunately for us, when it comes to testing for hormone levels – no pencil is needed, and you really can’t fail! If you’re still menstruating, have your hormone panel (blood test) done during the first three days of your period.  Here are the tests to ask for:

  • DHEAS: DHEA sulfate is a hormone that easily converts into other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. This adrenal hormone triggers puberty and is of the highest concentration of the hormones in the body. DHEAS is the sulfated form of DHEA in the blood. While DHEA levels fluctuate throughout the day, DHEAS blood levels are steadier and more reliable.
  • Estradiol: Estradiol is the main type of estrogen produced in the body, secreted by the ovaries. Low levels can cause memory lapses resulting in sticky notes aplenty, anxiety, depression, uncontrollable bursts of anger, sleeplessness, night drenches and much more.
  • Free and Total Testosterone: Free testosterone is unbound and metabolically active, and total testosterone includes both free and bound testosterone. In women, the ovaries’ production of testosterone maintains a healthy libido, strong bones, muscle mass and mental stability.
  • FSH:  Follicle-stimulating hormone is a pituitary hormone that stimulates the growth of the ovum (the egg and surrounding cells that produce ovarian hormones. This test can help indicate whether you’ve entered menopause. However, the suggested normal ranges need to be examined along with your Menopause Symptoms Chart, so that your specialist can properly evaluate the test results. There is no one-size-fits-all correct test result. What is normal for your best friend, sister or mother may not be normal for you.
  • Progesterone:  Progesterone is a hormone that stimulates the uterus and prepares it for pregnancy. It also regulates the menstrual cycle, and low levels of progesterone can cause irritability. Results will vary depending on when the test is done.
  • Thyroid Workup:  This usually includes checking your TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). If there is an irregularity with your TSH, you may need to get your Total T3 and Free T4 checked as well. (Free means it won’t be affected by your estrogen status, not free of charge!) Remember that the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and a thyroid disorder can be very similar.

This hormone panel, along with the information you gathered on your Menopause Symptoms Chart, will help your specialist evaluate the cause of your depression and help create an individualized treatment program just for you.

Natural Methods for Fighting Depression

I know that you’re eager to feel better right now!  You can start by improving your diet and ‘eating clean’.  In addition to the obvious benefits of keeping obesity at bay, you’ll feel good about taking control, not to mention healthy diets can even stave off the effects of dementia, particularly if you modify prior to age 50.

“Exercise, exercise, exercise is the best proven natural method for fighting depression,” according to Dr. Julia Frank. This is good news for the more than 120 million around the world suffering from the disorder.   It’s not even like you have to be an athlete, or hit the gym every day, but do drive up your heart rate for at least 30 minutes with an activity you enjoy, which could lead to even more fun in the bedroom!

If you think that you or someone you love may be dealing with depression, be sure to reach out and get the help you need and deserve.  We know ourselves better than ever and intuitively understand that if we get the treatment we need first for menopausal depression, we’ll have more to give to others.   And you know what they say about the world loving a cheerful giver!

Suffering in Silence is Out!  Reaching Out is In!


After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • Stef

    I live in Austin Tx. and have just about exhausted my Dr. list and none of them have been able to help me. How can I find a Dr. who is knowledgable in this area? I am willing to travel somewhere. Thanks

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Hi Stef,
      Go to my homepage and look under Dear Ellen. Click on how to find a Menopause Specialist. If you still can’t find one… me at
      Good Luck!
      Remember my motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!

    • Jane

      Hi Stef, I have been battling too and I live in Georgetown, TX just north of you. I have received alot of benefit from bio identical HRT. It was like night and day. I have been telling all my friends about my dr. DR HAEST. He keeps prices reasonable and he is very kind and thorough. He is a medical dr. first who has chosen to specialize in this now. I have not read all the information here from ellen dolgen and everyone is different of course, but I suffered for several years being told by my obgyn that I was not in menopause and my hormones were fine – FSH and Thyroid was fine, but other things were NOT. I am estrogen dominant I found out which made life a complete wreck. anyway, I hope you find help sweetie.

      • Ellen Dolgen

        Thanks for sharing, Jane! This is so helpful!

  • Just curious what you think of menopause and Bipolar 1 or 2. How do you assume that l’Wren Scott suffered from a unipolar depression? She had so much energy. Could this have been manic energy? Is it possible that she was Bipolar? Perhaps you could address dealing with menopause and bipolar and not just depression.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Hi Suzanne,
      I am not a doctor so there would be now way for me to make a clear evaluation on what was the cause of this tragedy, however, it did bring up questions that help us talk about menopause and depression. You make a good point, there are many topics to research – including menopause and bipolar. The important take away is to make sure you know what you are treating. If you were never depressed before and suddenly find yourself very depressed….it is helpful to get a hormone panel done to see if your depression is being caused my hormone imbalance. As this is relatively easy to solve. If your hormones are not the culprit than you need to find a specialist that handles depression. Do not just pretend that you are fine!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • This is such good advice. I struggled with symptoms for three years before I found a doctor that had a clue.
    Adding plenty of natural estrogen (sweet potatoes, canteloupe, carrots etc…)to my diet did the trick.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Hi Doreen,

      I am happy that you found the help you needed. Eating healthy, always helps everything!

  • FLJ

    I am moving toward my later 40’s and am terrified of menopause, have no mother, and know no one to talk to about it. I had bad PMS emotional symptoms when I was a bit younger. Now I have bad emotional and physical symptoms of PMS, and it looks like I’m bleeding to death (sorry of TMI). I can’t find anything online about perimenopause and symptoms and whether I can differentiate those from my daily symptoms from (get this!) Bipolar Disorder II, crippling Anxiety Disorder that’s made me agoraphobic, and PTSD. I don’t want to go to a Dr yet and have an annual physical and all that, because I don’t think I’d get enough information on whether I’m perimenopausal or even menopausal or not from my GP. I’m disabled and on Medicare, so I have limited choices.
    Is there any site or agency online that you could recommend starting at, so that I could face the GP with more knowledge, and know what questions to ask?

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Hi Frankie,
      I am so sorry you are going through so much. There is no need to fear perimenopause and menopause. The best thing is to arm yourself with knowledge so you can ask for what you need from your menopause specialist. Use my Menopause Doctor Directory to help you find a specialist. Just drop down resources and you will find it. Read: Five Steps To Hormone Happiness-. It will walk you thru how to find a specialist, what tests to ask for, and help you find hormone happiness! As for your bleeding, any unusual bleeding needs to be checked out by your Gyn!
      Spend some time on my website reading old blogs – it will help you educate yourself on this stage in your life. Check out the Dear Ellen section….as many of your questions are answered here!
      Good Luck!
      Keep me posted……

  • NH

    It’s taken me about 4 years to be relieved of all my menopausal signs/symptioms, except for hot flashes. Still have them which are sometimes triggered by heat or stress. I, like many of us women, did not realize what to expect in menopause ( google: signs & symptoms of menopause). I ended up going through the actual menopause without any hormones or knowledge that my “crazy feeling”, loss of concentration, and quick spiraling into severe depression to the point of hopelessness, loss of perspective on everything, and serious thoughts of suicide, etc…was the result of going through “the change.” My GP tested my hormone levels early on and the results were that I was no where near menopause! But I no myself and my own body for 45 years that I knew something was seriously wrong. Then about 10 months later, I asked him to repeat my hormone testing, and the results this time was that I was in menopause. I was livid about not having had the proper care and treatment for my menopause troubles. In fact, I went to a book store to find a best-selling menopause book to find the signs/symptoms in it. Voila! There they were. At least 34 of them listed and I went through all but about 5 of them! It was wonderful and freeing to realize that I wasn’t “crazy!” after all!!
    I was also, at the time I started going through menopause, I was going through unemployment/looking for work. I left an awful/unhealthy work environment. These two things I know exacerbated each other. What a mess I was for 4 years! From 2009-2013, during the worst economic recession the USA has ever had! I’m still trying to piece my life back together, which is much better. I used to be so bubbly, happy-go-lucky type of person before menopause to seriously considered suicide on multiple occasions during menopause and for a couple of years into post-menopause. Major PMS always occurred 3-10 days prior to my periods starting.
    I want to tell my story in order to help others who might be going through severe menopause also. It was no laughing matter. Now, some of my family and friends, and co-workers have distanced themselves from me since I went through that horrible ordeal. I WISH THAT EVERY BIT OF MENOPAUSE INFORMATION AND HOW SEVERE IT COULD GET WOULD BE KNOWN TO ALL WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD…NOW!! We need to know what to expect! We all need awareness and knowledge starting at 40 years old!!! We need to stop feeling guilty for all that we experience through it if we make poor decisions while in menopause. We need understanding, compassion, forgiveness, and love through it all. The suicide rate for women in mid-life, 45-60 years old, is increasing. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it is due to a combination of factors including menopause/hormone imbalances. Let’s act NOW! in getting every bit of info out to the public! I cannot stand the thought of another woman going through what I did without at least the knowledge/awareness.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Nancy. When we share – we help others! I am so sorry you went through so much. Yes, you can experience perimenopause and even menopause at 40….and yes – stress can exacerbate so many of the menopausal symptoms. You are so correct – you knew your body and understood that things were changing! The blood work is half the story…the other half is how does the woman feel. I created my Menopause Symptoms chart to help women communicate how they feel to their menopause specialist. After two weeks of charting your symptoms, if you have marks on this chart – you need to see a specialist. My whole mission and the reason for creating the home of my free,weekly Menopause Mondays Blog and Health News Flash is to help educate women to be their own health advocates. This way they can base their healthcare on fact instead of fear. Like you, I want women to understand that they are NOT ALONE, to trust how they feel and get the help they need and DESERVE! My motto is: Suffering in Silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN! Again, thanks for sharing your story! Feel free to send folks to sign up for my Menopause Mondays. In addition, I am always available at for further support.

    • sotrue

      Yes yes and yes. I’m estranged from my family for my crazy choices and moods and now new found low thyroid disease. But what a roller coaster. Women need too know that its not the issues but in the tissues.
      Be forwarned women need to know what’s going on in their bodies.
      It’s a major transition ontop of aging, empty nest, downsizing, employment, divorce, Loosing parents etc…
      Women are resilient and strong but then when we hit brick walls it helps to seek help.
      Blook tests first then a physical over haul. Then proceed with medication and pyscology if needed.
      But remember there is a spiritual journey in letting go of what’s around and doing the unusual, which is thinking about ourselves. It’s a journey back to our own bodies and thoughts and I feel half of the symptoms are the struggle of remembering who we are.

  • NH

    Another thing, my spirituality, Christian counseling, and a close friend is what got me through my menopause. We’re often considered “crazy” if we go through it bad enough, but I know that my Creator of the Universe knows and understands what I went through and that’s all that matters.
    Also, I remember two very popular TV Hosts had talked about when they had gone through their change, and they wondered what the heck was the matter with themselves too! And one of them had a close friend who is a mental health worker who helped her.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Nancy, it makes sense to reach out to all professionals – spiritual and medical. Perimenopause and menopause can be a very difficult time.

  • Vaileria Dennis

    Women are often at increased risk for depression when they reach menopause. 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 very important to choose proper treatment for depression as it affects badly our metal health. Before buying antidepressant we should check ingredients list and warnings. When I had suffered from depression I have used Tranquilene which helps to treat anxiety and depression. For proper information you can read Trainqulene review here

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Every woman is different…what may work for one may not work for another. However, the more we share with each other the more we learn about the various options to ask our specialist about. Thanks for sharing your journey with us Vaileria.

  • Rosie

    This article really doesn’t help for someone dealing with severe persistent hot flashes it just says to see a professional. Well, we all know to do that but this article doesn’t give any recommendations other than to see your doctor. We are looking for answers not to doctor shop.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Rosie, the blog is about menopausal depression. If you need help with hot flashes, download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause. You can download here. There are lots of tips on how to deal with hot flashes in Chapter 4. Good Luck!

  • sandranowa26

    What do you think about tests like this – ?

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Sandra, I am not familiar with this. But, thanks for sharing it!

  • Deborah G

    I can remember my mom having sas and out of touch days poor soul.
    But since she kept her feelings to herself during menapause. I had n-o warning
    that menapause would cause deppresion and mood changes. My husband and kids
    probably hate me. Thanks for sharing and for caring about others.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      Deborah, my Mother never uttered the word menopause! Be sure to sit down with your husband and kids and have an open conversation about the mood swings and many symptoms associated with menopause due to hormonal changes. I always suggest printing out my Menopause Symptoms Chart and using it as a tool for the conversation. This way your family doesn’t personalize your symptoms. If you don’t have a great menopause specialist download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause and read Chapter 13 for some great tips on how to find one. Do not give up until you get the help you need and deserve! Good Luck!

  • Angie

    Has anyone suffered with major depression during perimenopause and what did you do to help?

    • Angie, do you have a good Menopause Specialist? This is very important! You can download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving Perimenopause and Menopause from my homepage on Chapter 13 is full of great tips to help you find a good menopause specialist. Be sure to ask for the proper testing. This is in Chapter 14. Chapter 6 goes into the options to talk to your specialist about as it relates to stress, anxiety, irritability, depression and mood swings.Good Luck and keep me posted!

    • Lori Rogers

      get on HRT estrogen saved my life

  • Lori Rogers

    why doesn’t anything on here mention that Hormone replacement therapy can save a life? it saved mine,,, i will gladly take the risks

    • Lori, you are so right! Hormones play such an important role in our physical and emotional health. That is why I encourage women to get their hormones tested as hormone imbalance can result in depression, anxiety, emotional highs and lows…..etc.

      • Lori Rogers

        How can hormone “balance” be achieved when the ovaries fail at menopause? The only way to alleviate symptoms if they are life threatening like mine, complete menopause induced psychosis, is to replace them. The only testing I needed was FSH test that said yes your ovaries are done. So then I luckily got full blown pharmaceutical estrogen patch (praise to big pharmacy!) and now I have my life back and my family isn’t suffering in fear that I will kill myself. When do we stop knowing that women is endocrine transitions like puberty, post partum, PMS, and menopause are at risk for the cascade of events in the brain that are set off by estrogen deprivation? If I hear one more thing about herbs, progesterone cream, diet and exercise, it makes me so angry. How many lives? How much suffering?! I am a yoga teacher and I don’t like meds. But estrogen? I call it vitamin HRT. and I’m on a crusade to stop the stigma and the witch hunt associated with the very thing that saved my life.

        • Me, too! I want women to base their healthcare on facts instead of fear. Stay tuned for a upcoming blog on Hormone Therapy – Facts vs Myths

    • I wish more women knew the impact that finding hormone happiness has on you mental and physical health!

      • Chang Chang Monson

        Oh we know about it and we also know how much it costs! So many drs are charging so much that its impossible for a woman like me to even pass by the drs office! No insurance, no job, to young for medicare to old for medicaid! Not to mention nobody cares hell even my husband said to me yesterday, ‘you complain everyday about your little problem’ well what if his **** went limp?? Mens jobs even offer free viagra thru insurance! Done!

        • Chang, I do believe that you can get help at a Planned Parenthood in your area.

  • Christi holm

    I am suicidal during my period. I am 54 and am so tired. I have a plan in case it gets too bad. I am on pristique and bio identical estrogen and progesterone and still want to die. I would do electro shock therapy if I thought it would help. I just can’t live this way anymore and there seems to be no help.
    Hopeless in Califor

    • I am so sorry you are going through so much. I am a little perplexed that you are still having a period at 54 years old while you are on hormone therapy. Christi, it sounds like your current doctors are not helping you, please go get another opinion! You should not have to feel this way.

  • Tammie

    Help…I’m 48 and my periods are coming every 19 days. My mental health is BAD…I talk about suicide regularly and have tried to figure out the easiest way. My poor husbandu he doesn’t understand. I have no desire to do anything and I obsess about ending my life. .it’s so hard.

    • Tammie, you need to go see a menopause specialist asap! There is no need for you to be suffering like this!!! You want to have a good menopause specialist to guide you through your menopausal journey. Download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause. You can find some more helpful tips on how to find a menopause specialist in your area in Chapter 13!

  • Kathryn

    No specialists on Maui, and Ive tried everything. At this point a bullet is preferred. I prefer it to long term suffering. Plus, maybe some of us are meant to leave at 50. Not giving up, but if my family continues to suffer because of my suffering, I will definitely chose euthanasia.

    • Kathryn, please don’t give up on finding the help you need and deserve. I just googled Menopause Specialist in Maui and found some offices that you might want to talk to. Please google that on you computer and check them out. Good Luck!