More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Depression risk nearly doubles at start of menopause
August 15, 2006
by Mary Ann Moon

Women entering menopause are nearly twice as likely to develop depression as are women the same age who are not yet making the transition to menopause, reported Dr. Lee S. Cohen and his associates in the Harvard Study of Moods and Cycles.

?Transition to menopause has long been considered a period of increased risk for depressive symptoms,? Dr. Cohen and his colleagues wrote, but studies on the issue have yielded conflicting results. This is partly because of methodological inconsistencies, including a tendency to define menopause based on questionable criteria such as the subjects' age alone, and the lack of standardized assessment of psychiatric symptoms, the researchers said.

In contrast, their study involved a population-based, cross-sectional sample of women aged 36?45 years who were prospectively followed every 6 months for several years. Changes in menstrual cycle length and menstrual flow amount and duration were carefully tracked, and depressive symptoms were assessed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV, as well as the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.

Significant adverse life experiences and vasomotor symptoms also were assessed, said Dr. Cohen and his associates at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham and Women's Hospital, all of Boston.

The 460 study subjects had no history of major depression. A total of 134 were still premenopausal at the end of the last follow-up period, which occurred between 59 and 92 months after study enrollment. The remaining 326 women had entered menopause during that interval.

The rate of new-onset major depression was 16.6% in the menopausal women, compared with 9.5% in those who had not yet entered menopause, after the data had been adjusted to account for age at study enrollment and history of negative life events. ?To our knowledge, this prospective documentation of increased risk for depression among women without a history of depression is unique,? the investigators said (Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 2006;63:385?90).

This correlation between onset of depression and transition to menopause was noted both in women who used hormone therapy and in those who did not.

New-onset depression was more likely to develop in women who reported vasomotor symptoms. This association is not yet fully understood. It is possible that hot flushes disrupt sleep ?enough to adversely affect daytime functioning and to impact quality of life.? Alternatively, ?abrupt changes in neuromodulatory function and/or in reproductive-hormone levels could contribute to the constellation of mood and vasomotor symptoms,? Dr. Cohen and his associates said.

Similarly, depression was more likely to develop in women who experienced major adverse events as they entered menopause than in those who did not. This association was not attributable to the negative event precipitating the depression. Rather, ?a changing hormonal environment during perimenopause may lower the threshold for depression should negative life events be encountered,? they noted.


vasomotor symptoms
neuromodulatory function

any chance some one could translate these for me.. ???

Sure, nsa.

Vasomotor means affecting the narrowing and widening of the blood vessels.

Neuromodulatory function means having an effect on the nervous system.


Don't worry about not understanding some words NSA, many times there are simple words that people use in their posts that I don't know what they mean so I goggle them to figure it out. :) Thank god for Google. :D


So how do I know for instance if one has been influenced by the other.. or if it was the start of the premenopause or menopause.. that had me where i was.. am... ??


There's probably no way to be sure, fog. If you've never had any kind of depressive symptoms in the past, it could be that the beginning of menopause brought on depression. It could also have exacerbated an already existing depression, or brought back symptoms from a previous depressive state.


Thanks TL..
these make the most sense to me..
"It could also have exacerbated an already existing depression, or brought back symptoms from previous a previous depressive state."



The only thing that I have noticed is the pre menstural, I get sort of down, don't feel like doing anything.

If I have work to do on the pc, I sit here and stare at it. (heh maybe if I stare long enough it will get done by itself?) ;)

Other then that, I don't feel any levels of depression at all. The menstural changes are definatly there, for ages they have been there it seems. sigh.
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