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Menopause Journal: Marian Becomes "Miss Menopause"

Depression and Menopause

On top of that, sad and disheartening events occur during the menopausal years. We go through empty-nest syndrome; some of us find ourselves caring for elderly parents, witnessing disease and wasting. Then there's Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some of us have battles with our own health issues. And many of us lose loved ones.

In a three-year period, I lost three of my best friends, two to cancer and one to a car accident. Then my father died and I couldn't stop crying. Literally, I cried for about two years. Every day I'd think, "How can a person be so sad?" Finally I went to the doctor, who said I was depressed. Was I depressed because I was starting menopause or because I was overwhelmed with grief? He didn't mention menopause. He explained that chemical imbalances due to emotional trauma coupled with genetic predisposition can result in depression. He did mention Prozac. And though I'd been reluctant, I thank him.

What should you do? It's hard for me to tell how depressed you are and whether there might be reasons other than the geezer. If you find yourself crying constantly or experiencing other symptoms of major depression—suicidal ideation, inability to do anything, sleep disturbances, etc.—you should probably seek professional help.

On the other hand, taking Prozac or ending the relationship are only two choices. I've already suggested brownies as a third option. The tone of your letter made me think that you are very close to this man, that the two of you have a lot going for you. Do you really want to give it up? Could you think of his grouchiness as a great big wart, a cosmetic blemish? Or maybe you could ask that instead of telling you, he write a book of his complaints about the world ... a kind of instruction manual. What about taking the view that his grouchiness is a wonderful outlet for his stress—much better than a heart attack? Do you try to talk him out of his funk? Maybe you should just agree with him. He might find some comfort in feeling understood.

I like to explore multiple options. But remember, I'm just muddling along through menopause, where there are no right answers.

I'll sign this,

Ms. Menopause