Estrogen Therapy and Depression
The most common time of life that a woman requires estrogen replacement therapy is during menopause. This is also a period when many females report feelings of depression or unhappiness with their lives. These negative feelings can be fueled by a number of variables, including:
- Physical changes that affect appearance – making a woman look older than she is
- Changing hormone levels that can influence mood
- Reduced hormone signals to the brain affecting mental performance and memory
- Declining energy and stamina
- Weight gain and an inability to lose unwanted fat
- The knowledge that the “fertile” period of one’s life is over
- Low libido, vaginal dryness, and loss of sexual desire and pleasure
All of these reasons and many others signal the correlation between estrogen therapy and depression. The need for treatment to restore balance to significant hormone levels is often at its highest when a woman is in menopause. Depression is often as debilitating as heart disease, osteoporosis, or even severe arthritis. It can curtail a person’s ability to socialize, engage in productive work, or even interact with others on a regular basis.
Perimenopause is a time when estrogen replacement therapy for depression can be useful. This phase can last from a few months to many years. Each woman and her body are unique, and a symptom that may affect one person may be barely noticeable in another.
Changes in mood are often noted during this time when hormone levels can be up one month and down the next. Issues such as insomnia, night sweats, hot flashes, and mental fog can be the initiating factor of a discussion about estrogen replacement therapy and depression. These problems can interfere with a female’s ability to carry out her responsibilities during the day, to no fault of her own. It can be said that menopause symptoms can leave a woman feeling out of control.
Risks of Developing Depression from Estrogen Replacement Therapy
The risk of developing depression during menopause is greatest in women who have a history of depression or mood changes earlier in life, such as during pregnancy or after childbirth (postpartum depression). Females who have had serious issues with PMS and mood alterations may also have a higher predisposition for depression during perimenopause. There is an even bigger question that we are often asked here at Kingsberg Medical – can estrogen replacement therapy cause depression?
Hormonal balance in any person is crucial, and sometimes hard to maintain – especially in the later years of life when the body is going through the greatest period of change. Some of these vital chemical messengers assist in the production of other hormones, creating a chain reaction of decline or imbalance. There is a chance that during or after estrogen replacement, depression is possible because of the altering hormone levels in the body.
The biggest concern occurs when doctors treat women needing HRT with a combination of estrogen and progestin. This mix can affect mood by inducing anxiety, irritability, stress, and depression. Progestin is a synthetic form of progesterone and not recommended for use to treat menopause symptoms. It can also increase the risk of breast cancer, blood clots, and heart attacks. Bioidentical progesterone is a natural alternative that does not carry these risk factors and can help reduce the chance of estrogen replacement and depression.
In numerous studies, estrogen use has been found beneficial for its effects on a woman’s mood during menopause, but not when used along with progestin. This makes the answer to can estrogen therapy cause depression mixed, as it is most likely no when used alone, or with natural progesterone, or yes when combined with synthetic progestin.
Benefits of Estrogen Therapy for Menopausal Related Depression
Women going through perimenopause and menopause are often facing some other changes in their lives, leading to the benefits of estrogen therapy for depression. Those individuals who began their families in their twenties and early thirties are probably facing an empty nest for the first time. A woman who has devoted her life to her children may find herself at odds with an empty house and time on her hands that she does not know how to fill.
Combine this loss of identity with the physical, mental, and emotional changes that accompany menopause and you can have a potent mix of anguish and unsettled feelings exploding deep inside. Depression can affect a person on many levels, and the use of estrogen treatment for depression that accompanies menopause can be uplifting. It can restore both hormonal and emotional balance to a woman’s life.
At Kingsberg Medical, we understand the changes taking place in the bodies of both women and men as they age. The treatment of hormonal imbalances in adults over thirty is our primary concern. We do not work with bodybuilders or athletes looking to enhance their performance, nor do we treat younger adults who are not experiencing age-related hormonal declines. We know how to prescribe estrogen replacement for depression, as well as many other types of hormone treatment.
The most important thing to remember is that blood analysis must be performed before any form of HRT is prescribed. This is how to ensure that the treatment you administer is what your body needs to feel balanced once again.
To learn more about estrogen replacement therapy, depression, menopause symptoms, and treatment, or even how to reverse andropause in men, please contact Kingsberg Medical for a free consultation with an HRT specialist.Brian Leeber