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Menopause, Depression & HRT

Q: I recently visited my health care provider who checked my hormone levels. The results showed that I am menopausal. I have hot flashes, night sweats, etc. Sometimes these symptoms don't bother me much. The real disturbance for me is depression. I very rarely have a day when I really feel good. Most of the time I am just very depressed. My depression has been noticed by family, friends and co-workers.

I am seriously debating whether or not to take HRT, which my doctor suggested and I declined at first. Can you advise me? When I read about HRT on the net I get more depressed because a lot of it seems to be negative. 


Dr. Donnica:
Your email is upsetting to me because this is SO common among menopausal women today. Because of the negative media reports, women who NEED HRT because of disruptive symptoms are afraid to take it.  ALL medicines have side effects.  Please click here to read my report on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Women's Health Initiative study. This study advised against HRT for women with NO symptoms, who were taking HRT to prevent long-term heart disease or osteoporosis; they did not consider women WITH symptoms as part of their risk-benefit ratio. It is unlikely that you would need HRT to control your symptoms for more than 5 years, which is the NIH definition of "long-term."  As always, I recommend that you speak with your doctor. It sounds like s/he has made this same recommendation.

Keep in mind that HRT is not a treatment for depression per se.  What your doctor is probably thinking is that all of your menopausal symptoms, particularly the night sweats, which can contribute greatly to sleep disturbances, are contributing to the depression. If you are on HRT for a few weeks and still feel depressed, ask your doctor if you should consider antidepressant medication and/or psychotherapy.

For more information about HRT, click here.

For more information about depression, click here.

Click here for more information about depression or other mental health issues.

With best regards,
Donnica L. Moore, MD
President, DrDonnica.com

Created: 9/25/2002  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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