Depression in Perimenopause: Eat Your Way Out of It
You have to admit. Eating your way out of anything just can’t be bad. Especially if it can help you manage health challenges like depression in perimenopause – and it will.
In my last post I told you there is a direct correlation between a woman’s estrogen levels and the serotonin levels in her brain. I also told you that serotonin is the primary brain chemical which regulates mood. Without proper levels of serotonin, depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders can be a real problem for women in perimenopause.
In our pharmaceutical-driven medical economy, many healthcare providers would have you believe that simply taking antidepressants is all the help you need to deal with depression in perimenopause. But as you have certainly learned from me by now, I whole-heartedly disagree. While I do believe antidepressants have their place at times, I do not believe they should be the first line of defense in treating depression in women going through perimenopause.
Eating should be.
It might surprise you to learn – and it certainly raised my eyebrows - that roughly 72 percent of all the serotonin in our body is found in our intestinal tract. However, in order for our body to produce it, we have to eat the right foods, e.g., foods which supply amino acids, the basic building blocks of serotonin.
But before I go any further, let me say this: I don’t always take my own advice. I sincerely know how hard it is to change bad eating habits. I also know that if you are struggling with depression in perimenopause (among the many other symptoms) changing your eating habits can feel like an insurmountable task.
But it’s not, especially if you start small. The key is to not let your feelings – and in this case, depressive feelings – dictate your decisions. Make a decision to make one small change over a period of time, no matter how you feel. That’s the only way you will get yourself out of depression.
Trust me on that one. I know of what I speak.
So, that said, if you want to help your body produce adequate amounts of serotonin to naturally lift the fog of depression, you’re going to have to eat the proper foods. Foods which contain tryptophan, an amino acid, and precursor chemical needed for your body to produce serotonin. The really good news, however, is that it’s not hard to do.
Poultry (chicken and turkey), seafood, nuts and seeds, eggs, dairy products (cheese and milk), and legumes (beans) are all excellent sources of tryptophan, and not difficult to incorporate into your diet. In fact, you probably eat and enjoy many of these foods already. The key is to make sure you eat enough of them, and less of other things, such as highly processed, nutritionally raped foods loaded with preservatives and white fillers such as flour and sugar.
Again, I know changing eating habits may not be an easy task, particularly if like me, you have a fondness for sweet, sugary things. But if making small decisions to eat more of one type of food and less of another will help lift the weight of depression in perimenopause, well then, it seems to me, that’s a fight worth fighting.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.