Menopause, Depression, and Low Mood

By Christina Hanna, MPH, CHES • Published 8/14/2023

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Shannon Chavez, PsyD, CST

a sky full of clouds that symbolizes the feelings of sadness a woman can have during menopause

How do I know if it’s a low mood or something more serious?

Low mood and depression are often used interchangeably, but they are not exactly the same thing. Low mood is a temporary feeling of sadness that’s generally not severe enough to interfere with daily life, while depression is a more severe and persistent form of low mood that requires treatment.

Low mood

Low mood generally describes a temporary feeling of sadness, hopelessness, or a lack of energy. It’s a normal and common response to life's challenges and is usually not severe enough to get in the way of your normal activities. Low mood can often be managed on your own with healthy coping mechanisms that help boost your mood like exercise, spending time with friends or family, or engaging in your hobbies.


Depression, on the other hand, is a more severe and long-term form of low mood that affects daily life. It’s a medical condition that affects the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. There’s a range of symptoms of depression including:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  • Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns.
  • Lack of energy and motivation.
  • Physical symptoms such as aches and pains, headaches, and digestive problems.

Depression isn’t something that can be resolved on its own. It requires treatment, which may include medication, therapy, or a combination of both. If you’re struggling with negative feelings that won’t go away, are difficult to cope with, or are interfering with your daily life, reach out to a mental health professional.

patient talking to a therapist about their feelings of sadness and menopause depression

How do low mood and depression relate to menopause?

During menopause, estrogen hormone levels begin to decline, which can lead to feelings of low mood and even depression. During menopause, there’s a significant increase in the risk of new-onset depression or relapse of depression. One-third of females ages 40-65 say they experienced depression.*

Low mood, depression, and menopause can often be closely interconnected, as the hormonal shifts and other symptoms associated with menopause can contribute to feelings of sadness, low mood, and depression.

How can I improve my mood during menopause?

Low mood and depression during menopause are not inevitable or unstoppable. While it’s common to experience mood changes during perimenopause, there are things that can be done to manage and alleviate these symptoms.

  • Exercise can be an effective way to boost mood and be used as part of a treatment plan. It may also help to reduce stress and improve sleep, which can contribute to better overall well-being.
  • Diet can also play a role in managing low mood and depression during menopause. A healthy, balanced diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains can help emotional health. Additionally, avoiding processed and sugary foods can help to reduce the risk of mood swings and other symptoms. When we eat better, we may feel physically better, which can also result in an improved mood.
  • Practice stress-reduction techniques, such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. These practices can help calm the mind and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, which can in turn help to improve mood.
man hugging a woman as they are talking about her symptoms of menopause and her hormonal shifts

What treatments can help a low mood during menopause?

In addition to lifestyle changes, there are several treatments available that can help manage low mood and depression during menopause. These can include medication, such as antidepressants, and therapy, such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. During perimenopause, some doctors may also recommend systemic estrogen therapy (menopausal hormone therapy) for those with depressive symptoms and bothersome symptoms of menopause.

It's important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for low mood and depression during menopause. A healthcare provider can help to assess the severity of the symptoms and determine the most appropriate treatment.

It's also important to remember that menopause is a natural stage of life, and it’s not a disorder or a disease. While it can be a challenging time, it’s not something to be feared or ignored. By taking steps to manage low mood and depression during menopause, it’s possible to improve overall well-being and quality of life.

*Data from Attitudes & Usage study conducted in August 2021 with 4,578 female participants ages 40-65. Funded by Kenvue.

Last Updated 1/23/2024



Related Products