As Menopause Nears, Be Aware It Can Trigger Depression And Anxiety, Too

Teri Hines was in her mid-40s when she started to notice that her body was changing.

Her period became irregular and more intense. “It increased in frequency, it increased in intensity and it increased in duration,” she says.

She began to have hot flashes, gained weight and her energy levels took a nosedive.

“I just did not have the energy to do the things I wanted to do,” she says, like the long morning walks she loved to take with her dogs, or planning solo travel.

Looking back, she remembers feeling isolated and unmoored. “It was such a fog over who I was, what I wanted, where I was going, what I was capable of accomplishing,” she says. “I just could not find my footing.”

Hines knew she was likely going through perimenopause, that is the years leading up to menopause, when women’s monthly hormonal cycles become erratic as their bodies prepare to stop menstruating.

What she didn’t realize — and many women don’t know — is that the hormonal changes of perimenopause can bring changes in mood, and for some, a heightened risk of anxiety and depression.

“Women who have a previous diagnosis of major depression or anxiety disorder are going to be at a greater risk during the perimenopausal time,” says Jennifer Payne, who directs the Women’s Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins University.