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Depression and the Hormone Connection

Women are twice as likely to develop depression than men. In fact, from 10% to 25% of women will experience an episode of major depression at some time in their lives. St. Johns Wort has been proven effective in the treatment of depression.

Why is Depression More Common in Women?

Rates of depression are similar in girls and boys before adolescence, but with the onset of puberty, a female's risk of developing depression increases dramatically, to twice that of males. Experts believe that women may be more prone to depression because of changes in hormone levels that occur throughout a woman's life such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause, post birthing, having a hysterectomy or experiencing a miscarriage. In addition, the hormone fluctuations that occur with each month's menstrual cycle increase the risk for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

According to the National Institutes of Health, several other factors that are unique to women may contribute to their higher rates of depression. These include reproductive, genetic or other biological factors, interpersonal factors, and certain psychological and personality characteristics.

Premenstrual Syndrome, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and Depression

Up to 75% of menstruating women experience premenstrual syndrome PMS a disorder characterized by emotional and physical symptoms that fluctuate in intensity from one menstrual cycle to the next, usually affecting women in their 20s or 30s. Some 3-5% of menstruating women experience Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD, a severe form of PMS, marked by highly emotional and physical symptoms that usually become more severe 7 to 10 days before the onset of menstruation.

In the last decade, these fluctuations in hormone levels have become recognized as important causes of discomfort and behavioral change in women. While the precise link between PMS, PMDD, and depression is still unknown, chemical changes in the brain and the fluctuating hormone levels are both thought to be contributing factors.

Treating PMS and PMDD 

Many women find improvement by exercising, taking vitamins, and avoiding caffeine. For individuals with severe symptoms, medicine, individual and group psychotherapy, stress management, or martial therapy can be helpful.

Perimenopause is the stage of a woman's reproductive life that begins 8 to 10 years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen. Perimenopause lasts up till menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last one to two years of perimenopause, the decrease in estrogen accelerates. At this stage, many women experience menopausal symptoms.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is the period of time when a women stops having her monthly period and experiences symptoms related to the lack of estrogen production. By definition, a woman is in menopause after her periods have stopped for one year. It is a normal part of aging and marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. Menopause typically occurs in a woman's late 40s to early 50s. However, women who have their ovaries surgically removed undergo "sudden" menopause.

The drop in estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause triggers physical as well as emotional changes-such as depression or anxiety, and changes in memory. Like any other point in a woman's life, there is a relationship between hormone levels and physical and emotional symptoms. Some physical changes include irregular or skipped periods, heavier or lighter periods, and hot flashes.

Coping With the Symptoms of Menopause

There are many ways you can ease menopause symptoms and maintain your health. These tips include ways to cope with mood swings, fears and depression:
  • Find a self-calming skill to practice such as yoga, meditation, or slow, deep breathing.
  • Avoid tranquilizers.
  • Engage in a creative outlet or hobby that fosters a sense of achievement.
  • Stay connected with your family and community; nurture your friendships.
  • Seek emotional support from friends, family members, or a professional counselor when needed.
  • Take steps to stay cool during hot flashes, such as wearing loose clothing.
  • Keep your bedroom cool to prevent night sweats and disturbed sleep.
  • Take herbs, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Eat healthfully and exercise regularly.

What are my Options For Treating Depression During This Phase of My Life?

Depression during perimenopause and menopause is treated in much the same way as depression that strikes at any other time; however, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that phytoestrogens in the form of black cohosh, chaste tree berries, donq quai, evening primrose oil, alfalfa & licorice can provide relief of minor physical and emotional symptoms, as well as improve memory problems. This treatment is also useful in preventing osteoporosis. However, alone may not be effective in treating more severe depression. Antidepressant herbal drug therapy and/or psychotherapy may be necessary.

Natural Alternative for Depression

St. John's Wort (hypercium)

Europeans have used St. John's Wort for centuries to beat depression without the sometimes dangerous side effects of pharmaceutical antidepressants.

St. Johns wort appears to boost levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which effects the emotions. The herb seems so promising as a natural antidepressant that the National Institutes of Health(NIH) in Washington, D.C,. began a major study in 1997 to investigate its effectiveness.

St. John's wort doesn't appear to interact with most conventional drugs(except for antidepressants), many older people on complex medication regimens may be able to benefit from it.

In Germany, where doctors routinely prescribe herbal remedies, St. John's wort is the most common form of antidepressant, more widely used than the drugs Prozac or Zoloft because it has far fewer side effects.

5HTP Natural Anti-Depressant

Supplementation with 5-HTP encourages brain serotonin levels that can lead to positive effects on emotional well-being, appetite control, and sleep/wake/sleep cycles.

Bioidentical Progesterone Plus

For many women, natural bioidentical progesterone cream provides significant relief from symptoms related to shifts in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is known that trans-dermal application allows for easier absorption because with any oral medication or supplement the health and state of the colon can compromise its effectiveness. Natural bioidentical progesterone provides a safe, pleasant and efficient way to help the body help itself, the way nature designed the body to work.

Many women going through perimenopause or menopause use it as a gentle and natural alternative to the synthetic progesterone found in conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs.

For younger women, such imbalances are often associated with PMS or endometriosis,PCOS and bring on symptoms such as irritability, breast tenderness, bloating, water retention, weight gain and pelvic pain.

Additional Alternatives

Mood Stabilizer-Pregnenlone

 
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