According to new research, women going through the menopause are being wrongfully prescribed antidepressants. Worryingly, it also revealed that women are becoming more reluctant to go to their doctor about menopausal symptoms because they feel they won’t get the right level of support.
Here, we’ll look at what the new research revealed and why menopausal women aren’t receiving adequate care and treatment.
Understanding the new research
The new research carried out via a survey entitled “What Women Want at Menopause”, revealed more than a third of women who visit their GP with menopausal symptoms are offered antidepressants. Out of these patients, a staggering 80% believe the antidepressants are an ineffective treatment.
In some cases, antidepressants are even making menopausal symptoms worse. The typical symptoms experienced by the majority of women going through the menopause include mood swings, hot flushes, anxiety, a reduced sex drive, headaches and insomnia. These are just a handful of symptoms that can be experienced. While antidepressants can help to tackle mood swings and help with insomnia, they don’t address the wider symptoms experienced.
The research also discovered that 84% of women don’t feel their GP sufficiently answered their questions regarding the menopause. Just three in ten women also stated they were satisfied with the care received by their GP.
This highlights the issues regarding not just diagnosis and treatment, but with the amount of information provided to patients.
Why are women being wrongfully prescribed antidepressants?
Antidepressants are great for combatting depression and potentially helping with insomnia. However, as they don’t address the other symptoms, why are they being frequently described for menopausal women?
According to some experts, it’s a shortage of HRT which is leading GPs to issue alternative treatments. However, other than HRT, there are very few treatment options available to combat the symptoms of the menopause. So, antidepressants are being prescribed to target the mood-related issues the menopause delivers.
The trouble is, even for treating the mood swings and depression side of the menopause, antidepressants aren’t overly effective. Many women report that antidepressants haven’t helped them at all with their symptoms. If anything, they just left them feeling numb or disconnected from the world around them.
Whatever the reason women are being prescribed antidepressants for menopausal symptoms, it’s clearly not working.
Is HRT the answer?
HRT is the best treatment for managing menopausal symptoms. However, it has come under a lot of scrutiny over the years regarding its safety. Long-term use of the drug is known to link to various cancers such as breast cancer. However, the risk of this is small, particularly for those who don’t go through the early menopause.
So, HRT is the more effective treatment, it’s just difficult for women to get it when they need it. This recent research shows that more education needs to be provided to GP’s in order to answer patient questions and help them find the best possible treatment options.
Women who feel like they are experiencing menopausal symptoms can book a menopause health check. If it is revealed they are going through the menopause, insisting on HRT treatment may be required.