What happens when an anxiety-driven women in her 40’s who suffers from severe insomnia comes crying to her doctor? What questions does the General Practitioner ask? Are there any diagnoses in particular that will be discussed?
I was 43 years old when my perimenopausal journey started and after a couple of exams my GP was sure that I was either depressed, exhausted and near a mental breakdown. Not mentioning anything about hormones he wanted to put me on antidepressants and strong sleeping pills. I actually refused since I felt that I know my body quite well and I really felt that something else was going on in my body. I wasn’t depressed, I wasn’t exhausted, I just couldn’t sleep. In my book you can read about my perimenopausal transition, what really happened and about the lifestyle changes I made in the beginning.
Are antidepressants the right way to go?
As I mentioned earlier, GP’s seldom talk about perimenopause and depression. Antidepressant usage is on the rise. We also know that the prevalence of depression is much higher in women than in men. I have written some debate articles about this topic previously because I believe that there are many woman taking antidepressants when they are actually not clinically depressed. They are just perimenopausal and have depressive symtoms. I have also held lectures about it but it is like I am talking about a prohibited topic or something. Nothing happens. It is still such a taboo. And I believe that there are a lot of things you can do when your symtoms occur before you would need to start taking medication.
Knowledge is power
UK is really in the frontline of menopause awareness. The #menopausematter campaign, which was initiated by a woman called Diane Danzebrink is a good example. She had severe symtoms after a hysterectomy and almost got to the point where she became suicidal when she suddenly realised the enormous lack of knowledge in the society. The #makemenopausematter campaigns aim is to improve knowledge and understanding and has already led to the government deciding to add menopause to secondary school sex and relationship lessons.
Both Diane and I are trying to help both healthcare and women to understand that antidepressants are not the answer. If you have severe symtoms you should be offered HRT. But what about the breast cancer risk with hormones? I promise I will explain this more thoroughly in the future. This amazing campaign has now started in the US as well and I am actually playing a small role in the campaign clip (even though I am not even American). Feels a bit surrealistic but I am so happy about it! I am a bit curious, how many of you are in your 40’s and have had some strange symtoms and been given a prescription for antidepressants by your GP? I would love to hear your comments on this.
P.S. I am so happy that my readers list is growing – feel free to share a list of topics you would like me to dive into. I already know that you want me to write about food and perimenopause and I promise I will!
This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.