Perimenopausal women have 40% higher risk of depression, study suggests | Menopause

Perimenopausal women have a 40% higher risk of suffering from depression than premenopausal women, a global analysis of research suggests.

Experts from University College London (UCL) have found that women can be vulnerable to depression as they approach the end of their periods, with new cases developing or existing symptoms worsening. Research highlights the need to provide support and screening to effectively address women’s mental health needs.

Perimenopause typically begins about three to five years before the onset of menopause, researchers said. Women typically go through menopause between the ages of 49 and 52, which has been found to be the time when women experience the highest rates of depression.

Common mental health symptoms related to perimenopause include low mood, anxiety, mood swings, low self-esteem, and problems with memory and concentration. Physical symptoms include hot flashes, trouble sleeping, heart palpitations, muscle pain, joint pain, and weight gain.

The new research, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, examined data from seven studies involving 9,141 women from around the world, including Australia, the United States, China, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

It concluded that perimenopausal women had “a significantly higher risk of depressive symptoms and diagnoses” – about 40% higher – than premenopausal women.

Researchers did not find a significant increase in the risk of depressive symptoms in postmenopausal women compared to those who were premenopausal.

They suggested that one biological reason could be that falling estrogen levels in women during menopause trigger the onset of new symptoms or worsening of pre-existing depressive symptoms.

Estrogen has been shown to “affect the metabolism of neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine, endorphin and serotonin), which influence all emotional states,” they said.

Night sweats can also lead to sleep problems, which may also have an influence, although this is not conclusive, they added.

Having a history of depression has also been linked to depression in postmenopausal women, while other studies have found that caring for aging parents and children can make women more vulnerable.

The authors said a limitation of their work was that the study was unable to determine whether the women had a history of depression.

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Lead author Yasmeen Badawy said: “Combining data from global studies indicates that these findings cannot be attributed solely to cultural factors or lifestyle changes that have sometimes been used to explain depressive symptoms. what women feel during perimenopause. »

Lead author Dr Roopal Desai said: “This study shows that women in the perimenopausal stage are significantly more likely to suffer from depression than before or after this stage.

“Our findings highlight the importance of recognizing that women at this stage of life are more vulnerable to depression. It also highlights the need to provide support and screening to women to help them effectively address their mental health needs.

In a previous study, the same researchers found that therapy – such as mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy – could be an effective form of treatment for non-physical symptoms of menopause.

Corresponding author Professor Aimee Spector said: “Women spend years of their lives dealing with menopausal symptoms which can have a huge impact on their wellbeing and quality of life.

“Our findings show how perimenopausal women’s mental health can suffer during this time. We need greater awareness and support to ensure they receive appropriate help and care, both medically and in the workplace and at home.

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Gn Health

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