Women wrongly prescribed antidepressants for menopause

Women in the UK are being wrongly prescribed antidepressants to combat hormonal mood problems, according to a study of 1,101 U.K.-based women aged 42-55.

The What Woman Want at Menopause survey revealed:

  • Over a third of menopausal women were offered antidepressants after issues with mood
  • 84% of women felt their GP did not fully address their questions about the menopause
  • Only three in 10 of women felt their doctor had been helpful regarding menopause

Professor John Studd, who is internationally recognised as one of the UK’s leading menopause experts, has long called for a greater understanding of the link between depression and hormones. He has commented: ‘The tragedy for women is that usually the association between hormonal fluctuations and depression is not recognised by their doctors who will instead treat them with antidepressants.’

Reproductive depression misdiagnosed 

Professor Studd added that this misdiagnosis can have far-reaching effects. ‘ As these are inappropriate for hormone responsive depression they often do not work and the dose will then be increased. Often, a second or third antidepressant will be prescribed and sometimes even mood-stabilising and anti-epileptic drugs. Sometimes the condition will be dangerously diagnosed as bipolar disorder.’

The benefits of hormone replacement therapy have been promoted since the 1950s, to replace depleted hormones and treat symptoms of menopause, as well as helping to protect against health risks.

How can HRT help mood?

Hormone replacement therapy can help menopausal women with:  

  • Protecting against heart disease, as oestrogen and testosterone protect the arteries and heart from damage.
  • Strengthening bones, as women can lose up to 20% of their bone density after menopause, making them more at risk of developing osteoporosis.  
  • Boosting energy levels, as volatile hormones can leave you lacklustre.
  • Mood swings, as fluctuating hormones can cause bouts of depression.
  • Boosting memory and concentration.
  • Younger looking skin, as oestrogen reduces collagen loss.
  • Vaginal dryness, as oestrogen can help to keep the vaginal tissues supple and lubricated.

You can start taking hormone replacement therapy as soon as menopausal symptoms start to show, and you feel they are impacting on your life. A sign you’re close to menopause is not having had a period for three months, while a year without a period signals the start of menopause,

Professor Studd founded the London PMS & Menopause Clinic. Globally recognised as one of the leading experts in the field of HRT, he has handpicked the UK's best gynaecologists to consult at the London PMS & Menopause Clinic.

The team of consultant gynaecologists includes:

Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and a loss of interest in life, combined with a sense of reduced emotional well-being Full medical glossary
The process of determining which condition a patient may have. Full medical glossary
A viral infection affecting the respiratory system. Full medical glossary
A substance produced by a gland in one part of the body and carried by the blood to the organs or tissues where it has an effect. Full medical glossary
The administration of female hormones in cases where they are not sufficiently produced by the body. Abbreviated to HRT. Full medical glossary
Abbreviation for hormone replacement therapy, the administration of female hormones in cases where they are not sufficiently produced by the body. Full medical glossary
Relating to the menopause, the time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle. Full medical glossary

The time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle, and her periods cease

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A hormone involved in female sexual development, produced by the ovaries. Full medical glossary
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The main male sex hormone. Full medical glossary
A group of cells with a similar structure and a specialised function. Full medical glossary
The muscula passage, forming part of the femal reproductive system, between the cervix and the external genitalia. Full medical glossary