Early Transition To Menopause May Increase Risk For First Onset Of Depression
By Archives of General Psychiatry
Apr 5, 2006, 19:28

In a study, Lee S. Cohen, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and colleagues from the Harvard Study of Moods and Cycles examined the association between the menopausal transition and onset of first lifetime episode of depression among women with no history of mood disturbance. The Harvard Study of Moods and Cycles is a study of premenopausal women with and without a lifetime history of major depression.

The participants in this research were 460 premenopausal women, 36 to 45 years of age, with no lifetime diagnosis of major depression, residing in seven Boston area communities. The incidence of new onset of depression was based on structured clinical interviews, CES-D scores, and self-administered questionnaires.

"Premenopausal women with no lifetime history of major depression who entered the perimenopause were twice as likely to develop significant depressive symptoms as women who remained premenopausal, after adjustment for age at study enrollment and history of negative life events," the researchers found. "The increased risk for depression was somewhat greater in women with self-reported vasomotor symptoms (for example, hot flashes)."

"The current study suggests that within a similarly aged population of women with no lifetime history of depression, those who enter the menopausal transition earlier have a significant risk for first onset of depression," the authors state. "In the United States only, approximately 1.5 million women may reach menopause each year. A spectrum of symptoms and syndromes has been extensively described in women during the menopausal transition including severe vasomotor symptoms, loss of bone density, sexual dysfunction, a decline in cognitive function, and a potential increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Thus, the comorbidity of these problems with perimenopause-associated depression could affect many aging women, leading to a compounded burden of illness," the authors conclude.

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