Menopause Blues: Are Changing Hormones Causing Your Depression?

The Menopause Blues

Growing older is never an easy process.  And while research shows that older women tend to be happier than younger ones, the changes that happen with age are not without pitfalls.  This is especially true in women that are undergoing severe health challenges during menopause—due to fluctuations in hormones.

Before pulling the emergency switch, it might be advisable to first see your doctor, or a well-trained naturopathic doctor, to have your hormone levels tested.

saliva hormone testI personally do a 24 hours cortisol and hormone panel on patients before prescribing hormone therapy, and prefer saliva hormone testing over testing with blood test.  This is because saliva testing looks at the free or active hormone levels in the blood—making it a fairly reliable test.

In addition to bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, many patients are advised to start a daily health regiment to help maintain good health and improved mood.

This is because without adequate nutrition, maintaining healthy hormone levels can become a challenge.

Clean Up The Diet

One of the first things we do to help women improve their mood during menopause is to clean up their diets.  I have written about some simple dietary tips in previous blogs which you can view Here.

  • This is especially true if the emotional health challenges are due to fluctuations in blood sugar and or a preexisting health challenge like thyroid dysfunction.
  • Hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, pre-diabetic health challenges may all be medical conditions that are worsened during menopause.
Foods to Avoid

Foods thought to aggravate mood include, coffee, alcohol, salty foods, sugar and processed foods.

  • Any food with a high-glycemic index, like candy, white bread, white potatoes and white rice can have a dramatic impact on blood sugar.   Furthermore, poor quality foods can create many nutritional deficiencies associated with poor hormonal health and brain health.
  • Higher glycemic foods, like sugar, corn syrup and white flour, can also cause more inflammation in the body.  And that in turn, can cause a rise in cortisol, an increase in belly fat, and a drop in serotonin levels.
  • Serotonin is a chemical produced in the brain that  acts as a neurotransmitter and is thought to create a sunny or positive outlook on life.
The Effects Of Coffee On Mood
  • Coffee may be the first thing you crave when you wake up in the morning.  And small amounts of coffee may actually increase a class of neurotransmitters known as, “catecholamines.”
  • Catecholamines include dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.  And are considered mood elevators; that can help increase energy and optimism.
  • However, consuming more than 1 to 2 cups a day is associated with increased anxiety, poor attention span, and insomnia.
  • So if you love your coffee, then continue to enjoy it.  But try not to drink more than 1 to 2 cups a day if you do suffer from anxiety.  Or consider giving it up entirely if you are extremely sensitive.
  • My favorite coffee substitute is Dandy Blend, because it has a pleasant taste, and many of my patients have been able to get off coffee completely with this product.

I also encourage my patients to be mindful of alcohol.  Even small amounts of alcohol can have a huge impact on hormone levels.

  • So if you are trying to have a healthier and happier mood, consider decreasing or stopping drinking entirely.
My Top Picks For Improving Mood During Menopause

Meta-Fem by Thorne Research 

Meta-fem by Thorne Research is probably the best multivitamin on the market for women over 40.  And insuring that my patients are getting adequate nutrition—also insures optimal physical and emotional well being.

  • This is because poor nutrition can aggravate stress, and exacerbate poor sleep—lead to fatigue, depression, and even drops in neurotransmitter levels—the chemical messengers necessary for healthy brain function.

Sero-Syn by Metagenics 

If you are suffering from depression and anxiety associated with low serotonin levels, and you are not currently on a prescription antidepressant, then SeroSyn by Metagenics may help.

  • This product is made with a very high quality 5-HTP (a precursor to serotonin), along with several supportive herbals along with B-Vitamins in their co-active form.
  • This product has been triple-tested for purity.
  • 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin, and has been found in clinical studies to help improve anxiety and depression.
  • This product is not suited to people currently taking antidepressants.
  • I usually advice my patients to take 1 capsule prior to bed and 1 capsule prior to breakfast for best results.

Bone Up by Jarrow Formulas

Healthy nutrition and optimal mineral levels are vital to physical and emotional health.

  • One of my favorite multimineral and bone support supplements for women is Bone Up by Jarrow Formulas.  I like this formula because it contains an excellent blend of minerals.  This supplement contains calcium and magnesium in a 2:1 ratio, which can help enhance absorption of minerals and improve mood.
  • This product also contains other important minerals like zinc, selenium and boron.
  • Minerals are vital to healthy brain health and healthy bone health.  In fact, neurotransmitters cannot be made without adequate minerals, like magnesium.

Lithium Orotate 

Lithium is one of those minerals that I have only recently begun prescribing in my office.  While lithium is not considered a required mineral for healthy brain function, many people report an improved mood when they take it.

  • Lithium has been used to treat people with a history of bipolar disorder and is prescribed as lithium carbonate at levels starting at around 300mg—depending on the weight and needs of the patient.
  • I usually start patients off at around 2 capsules of 20mg lithium orotate one to three times a day based on symptoms.
  • The highest quality lithium I have found on the market is Lithium Orotate by Vital Nutrients, and have seen it dramatically improve the emotional wellbeing of my patients.
  • Higher levels of lithium are associated with hypothyroidism and potential kidney disease—so consider speaking to your doctor before taking this supplement.

DHA Xtra by Nordic Naturals

Healthy brain health and development is dependent on many types of nutritional support, DHA, is a type of omega-3 that has been found to be helpful in mood and healthy grey matter formation.  DHA levels may decline as we age, and are thought to be important to maintaining healthy brain function as we age.

  • DHA Xtra by Nordic Naturalsis a supplement I often prescribe both for improved mood, and to help improve brain health in an aging population.  
  • DHA Xtra by Nordic Naturals is also high in EPA: a form of omega-3 important for heart health.  I usually advice patients take 1-2 capsules a day in addition to consuming 1-2 fish meals a week.

If you would like to find out more about my work, or you would like to schedule an appointment, please visit my website at DoctorWhimsy.com I am available for appointments both directly at my offices in Los Angeles, but also online via telemedicine.

Thank you for your visit.

Dr. Whimsy Anderson, ND

 

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