Perimenopause and Antidepressants: Honor Your Moods
You are not too much.
You are a beautiful person who experiences different moods based upon your cycles, hormones, feelings, and stress level. Did you know that your moods are teaching you about yourself? How we feel does not define who we are. It’s merely our innate self trying to tell us something that does not feel right. If you have not read the book Moody Bitches by Dr. Julie Holland, I highly recommend it! Holland shares some incredible insight on honoring our moods as we age, antidepressant use, and our changing hormones.
Holland states that we tend to sweep a lot of ‘dust’ under the carpet, so to speak, throughout the first (2) phases of our cycle, the menstrual phase, and follicular phase. During this time, our hormones are more stable, and therefore we tend to let the little things roll off our back. We stifle and shove hurtful things out of the way, and it just doesn’t seem to affect us as much. It doesn’t mean the feelings are not there; they just have not surfaced yet. Our emotions haven’t surfaced because our hormones are more stable during these first phases of our cycle, supporting our neurotransmitters. The brain feels happier. It doesn’t mean we aren’t feeling anything. We do a better job of pushing things away. However, after ovulation, during the luteal phase of our cycle, hormone levels drop, which also impacts serotonin (the feel-good hormone), thus affecting our emotional health. We begin to feel more fatigued, moody, and tend to have less energy during the second half of our cycle until menstruation.
Perimenopause and Antidepressants
Many women are treated with antidepressants (SSRIs) to help raise their serotonin levels. In many circumstances, antidepressants are warranted. However, I do think they are extremely overprescribed, especially to women who are entering perimenopausal years and experiencing mood changes due to hormonal shifts. Rather than taking medications as a first-line, why not explore and address the root cause?
More times than not, Doctors are prescribing antidepressants without truly understanding what is going on in the body to create these symptoms. I am not anti-medication. I repeat: I am not anti-medication. Depression must be taken seriously, and in many cases, antidepressants are warranted. What I am against is ‘quick fix’ and Band-aids, vs. genuinely understanding the root cause of what may be happening within your body to create this imbalance.
The Luteal Phase: Work Through Your SH*T and Finding the Message
During the luteal phase, stronger waves of emotion come up. During this time, ant hills may become mountains. We may experience feelings of doom, darkness, despair, and sadness. You may become tearful over what seems like nothing to an outsider, but to you, it feels like a tragedy. We may get very irritable and testy with people. In my book “Forties on Fire,” l share several ways to help find balance during this time (including supplement recommendations). I feel the most important thing is to acknowledge the messages coming from these intense feelings. These feelings are there for a reason, and we must experience them and feel what the underlying message is.
Perimenopause and Antidepressants: Stop Happiness Chasing!
Our culture is one that chases happy and gets very uncomfortable with feeling any form of discomfort. We see sadness as a bad or ‘wrong-feeling.’ However, ‘sad’ is just as imperative an emotion to feel, even if it’s unpleasant. Our hormones are sweet little messengers telling us big things, and we need to stop pushing away and resisting. Our solemn, our cries, our intense emotions are needed in this world now more than ever. In her recent TED talk, Susan David discusses the ‘positivity’ movement. She describes positivity as a new form of moral correctness. We begin seeing people who are not happy, as being wrong. Susan David suggests this is creating a “tyranny of positivity,” and I couldn’t agree more. If we continue to bypass important feelings for the pursuit of happiness, we will be left with more profound sadness. Both emotions are of equal importance, even if one is more complicated.
We have these emotional cycles for a reason, and these seemingly small things come up because these are things in our life we need to address. As we age, messages get louder. How many years have you been stifling hurt? What is the underlying message? Is there something that you need to work through in your life or with your partner? During this time, don’t write off your mood as ‘just PMS.’ It’s a time to sit quietly and feel what comes up, so you can get to the bottom of it, and begin to release the hurt.
Honor Your Moods, Honor Your Feelings and Respect Your Needs
Have that releasing cry. Have that important talk with your spouse or significant other. Talk with the people in your life about the things that are coming up and what’s upsetting you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable; nothing is off-limits. Open and honest communication will help release any “stuck” areas in your life and lead to deeper, more meaningful connections. Let those emotions roll as they need to move and try to let go of any shame you’ve attached to it.
It’s a time to honor yourself. Honor your feelings. Respect your needs. Say no. Give yourself space. Give yourself permission to feel and express as loudly as you need to. The luteal phase is the time for working through our sh*t! It’s a time for going deep and learning about ourselves and our personal needs. It’s necessary. Feel the feels. Work through the hard stuff. Don’t write yourself off any longer. Stop stifling, hiding, and pushing away these crucial emotions. You are valuable and worthy.