What is menopause?
Menopause is defined as the ending of menstruation. Both natural and surgical menopause results in low estrogen levels within the body. Perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, weight gain, depression, and anxiety.
Thyroid Imbalance and Menopause
One of the conditions that can make the menopausal experience even worse is thyroid imbalance. Yet thyroid disease is not routinely considered when a woman, at menopause, seeks help for her annoying symptoms. Through and after menopause, the frequency of thyroid imbalance increases. Indeed, 1 out of 10 menopausal women are diagnosed with hypothyroidism. You also need to know that an immune system attack on the thyroid (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) at the time of menopause is quite common and may affect as many as 10 to 15% of menopausal women.
Women diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction prior to menopause have an increased likelihood of experiencing more severe symptoms during menopause. Indeed, having had a thyroid imbalance during the reproductive years makes a woman more vulnerable to experiencing vasomotor symptoms, anxiety, depression, and night sweats when becoming menopausal, even if, at the time of menopause, thyroid levels are perfectly normal with treatment. During the hormonal transition, low or high thyroid levels make menopausal symptoms worse and may even trigger menopausal symptoms in someone who has never had menopause. This is why thyroid patients struggle a lot when they become menopausal. Remember, having your thyroid levels properly regulated with medication is important in minimizing your depressive and menopausal symptoms.
Mood and Menopause
Depression and anxiety become more prominent at the time of menopause. As estrogen levels fall, the ability of serotonin to bind to its receptors in the brain decreases. The changes in estrogen and other hormones affect the woman’s body and mind, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and emotional instability. In fact, among the symptoms experienced by women going through menopause, depression is one of the most common. If a woman experiences an episode of depression during this transition, she has a much higher chance of experiencing more down the road. Depression causes a change in sleep patterns, loss of interest, feelings of worthlessness, and guilt. Other symptoms are decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, and changes in appetite. Experiencing depression in menopause also makes a woman more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease down the road.