Almost all of us feel great sadness once in a while. But when your depressed feelings become frequent or constant, it’s time to take action.

“I didn’t have a zest for living. I was still going through the motions of living, but not enjoying it. I had this dull feeling, and it lifted some of that dull sensation of depression.”

Eileen, customer

Many women don't realize that there is a connection between the hormonal changes during perimenopause or menopause and depression. And too few women understand that depression often has a physical basis. Once you understand these physical causes of depression, you can give your body the support it needs to overcome your feelings of sadness.

You should rely on your health care provider to diagnose whether you have clinical depression that requires medical treatment. In those cases antidepressants are used and can be very effective. But for women who have symptoms of depression but aren’t clinically depressed, a natural approach can provide them with the help they need.

Stress and depression

We often talk to women with varying degrees of depression due to what we call “toxic stress.” The typical profile includes a difficult workplace, the demands of running a home and raising a family, plus in many cases caring for aging parents. These are the most adverse kinds of stress, because they are powerful and constant.

Stress like this causes imbalances in hormones and neurotransmitters that affect mood as well as mental function. Sometimes these imbalances cause anxiety or mood swings, and other times they are causes of depression. In the case of depression, the body lacks sufficient serotonin, the neurotransmitter necessary to maintain positive mood. The most popular type of depression medication, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and Celexa, work by conserving the body’s inadequate supply of serotonin. By contrast, our approach is to understand why your body isn’t making enough in the first place, and then help it produce more serotonin naturally.

Perimenopause, menopause, and depression

Perimenopause can seem to add to the stress level, and can certainly create hormonal imbalances that affect mood and mental function. Many women feel disoriented and confused by what is happening to them. The estrogen dominance so common in perimenopause can exacerbate symptoms of depression.

Perimenopause is also a time when many women find their true voice. This can bring to the surface old unresolved emotional issues. While absolutely vital, this process can add to your feelings of sadness or being overwhelmed. And in truth, it is a lot to deal with.

A natural approach can help

The solution for depression depends upon the severity of your symptoms. Any woman experiencing symptoms of depression should talk to her healthcare provider or a mental health professional. For women with clinical depression or mood disorders, antidepressants are often essential, at least temporarily.

But for other women — like those whose depression is a symptom of perimenopause, menopause, or stressful conditions — a natural approach can provide relief. Many women with subclinical depression don't realize that there are alternatives to antidepressants.

The basic approach we have found effective for subclinical depression is to give yourself more support while trying to reduce the demands on you. This approach targets the causes of depression by encouraging the body to produce more serotonin and balance hormones and neurotransmitters naturally.

The Essential Nutrients in our Health Programs provide vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids that are vital to support healthy neurotransmitter and mental function. We also offer an eating plan (including recipes!) to help you maintain a healthy diet.

The Program also includes gentle endocrine support to help your body achieve and maintain a healthy balance between estrogen and progesterone. And the optional nursing support can help with personalized guidance on how to reduce stress, shield yourself from the stressors that you can’t reduce, and support your body better with exercise, time for yourself, and facing unresolved problems.