An article in the British Publication Mirror describes a Member of Parliament (MP)
treated with antidepressants for 12 years before she was finally diagnosed as having menopause. After all that time, MP Carolyn Harris is finally weaning herself off of the antidepressants.
According to her interview, she mood was so low that she wasn’t able to make a round trip to the supermarket. MP Harris did have a very depressing event in her life–she had lost her eight-year-old son, Martin, in an automobile accident in 1989.
Years later, as her menopause years approached, MP Harris began having extremely sad feelings that her medical team attributed to her earlier loss and began treating her with antidepressants. No one considered the significant mood changes and other menopause symptoms that can occur with perimenopause and menopause.
MP Harris shares in her interview that if she understood the possibility her sadness was coinciding with menopause, she might have been treated for her menopause symptoms and never needed antidepressants. She now realizes that some women going through menopause get so depressed that take their own life.
MP Harris states in her interview that her medical team and a lot of women are never able to “put together the dots” when severe mood changes occur around the time of menopause.
Her depression began in 2010, which is over 20 years after the tragic loss of her child. She began having continuous bleeding for about 6 months and was becoming so anemic she was passing out on her office floor.
After her surgery, which was ultimately found due to benign uterine tumors called fibroids, she stopped having periods and went into menopause. But she was not being treated for her other menopause symptoms. In fact she received no treatment other than antidepressants, even though she was having hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, body aches and fatigue in addition to her depression.
The point is clear: menopause often goes undiagnosed by both patients and their healthcare team. And that fact that she was a Member of Parliament and her work was being affected did not prevent her from being treated for only one of her symptoms while the others as well as the root cause were completely undiagnosed. In fact, she was initially of the belief that she had “sailed through” menopause.
One day, “as if a light bulb went of,” she realized, “my God, I’m on the menopause.” At that time she finally began treatment with Hormone Therapy (HT) that included estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Almost instantly she began feeling much better and is now weaning off the antidepressants. But this post isn’t about HT, there are other treatments for menopause symptoms. It is about the fact that untreated menopause symptoms in the workplace affect work-related health at all levels of society, and cause treatable problems for women at work and at home.
The UK is now trying to lower the cost of estrogen and increase its availability as it is in short supply there.