Depression Risk Increased During, After Menopause


Disclosures: The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Nursing Research.

SAN DIEGO — The risk of a major depressive episode more than doubles for women during and after the menopausal transition, compared with when they were premenopausal, results from a 9-year follow-up study showed.

The finding suggests that clinicians “need to pay attention to depressive symptoms during this time in a woman's life, and perhaps do a more extensive assessment both in terms of the current presentation and a history of depression, so they have a better understanding of what the overall risk is for a major depressive episode and how they might intervene to prevent it,” the study's principal investigator, Joyce T. Bromberger, Ph.D., said in an interview at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society.

She and her associates analyzed 9 years of follow-up data from 221 premenopausal women enrolled at the Pittsburgh site of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, a multisite epidemiologic study designed to examine the health of women during midlife.

The researchers used the Nonpatient Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders at baseline to determine lifetime history of major depression and annually to assess current and past-year major depression.

The University of Pittsburgh researchers classified the women's status according to self-reported bleeding criteria as premenopausal, perimenopausal, postmenopausal, and postmenopausal on hormones.

Covariates included race, history of major depression at baseline, time-varying age, stressful life events such as the loss of a spouse or a job, use of psychotropic medications, and hot flashes/night sweats. Women who reported a bilateral oophorectomy or hysterectomy were not included in the analyses after the procedure.

At baseline the women were between the ages of 42 and 52, reported Dr. Bromberger of the department of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Of the 221 women, 129 (58%) transitioned to postmenopause over the 9 years and 69 (31%) had at least one major depressive episode.

Nearly half of women with a history of a major depression at baseline (47%) met criteria for current or past-year major depression, compared with 23% of women without a history of major depression at baseline, the epidemiologist reported.

Univariate analyses demonstrated that the greatest risk for having a major depressive episode occurred when women were postmenopausal (odds ratio, 3.52) or when they were perimenopausal (OR, 2.13), compared with when they were premenopausal.

In the fully adjusted multivariate analyses, women remained significantly more likely to have a major depressive episode when they were postmenopausal (OR, 3.79) or perimenopausal (OR, 2.05), she reported. Odds ratios were also significantly greater for African American women (OR, 2.10); women with a history of depression (OR, 2.97);, and women who reported stressful life events (OR, 2.90) during the study period.

“I was surprised by the increased risk during the postmenopause, because the majority of the literature on depressive symptoms has suggested that the increased risk is during the [menopausal] transition, and not after it,” Dr. Bromberger said.

Odds ratios were also greater for African American women, and women who reported stressful life events.


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