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Women close to menopause may be more at risk of depression, study explains why

  • May 3, 2024
  • 5
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The perimenopause is a key period that each woman lives in a unique way. This transition state precedes menopause, and generally lasts 2 to 4 years. According to Health Insurance, perimenopause “results in irregular cycles and unpleasant symptoms“, due to fluctuation in estrogen levels and progesterone. Among the symptoms in question, we can cite in particular the first hot flashes and night sweats as well as mood disorders.

If we know that this pivotal period can be particularly trying for women who are entering menopause for the first time, British scientists were interested in the prevalence of risk of depression according to the stage of menopause.

Women 40% more likely to suffer from depression in perimenopause

Women who encounter the first irregularities of their menstrual cycle and thus enter perimenopause are they more at risk of depression? Researchers from University College London (UCL) wanted to know whether different stages of menopause are associated with different risks of depression. In order to answer these questions, the British team carried out a meta-analysis of seven studies, comprising a method which aims to heterogeneously analyze and synthesize several already existing scientific studies. The studies in question focused on 9,141 women from all over the world. The researchers looked at each person’s medical history as a control indicator, comparing their mental health at each stage of menopause.

By reviewing the different analyses, the group of researchers observed that women in perimenopause had a significantly higher risk of almost 40% of presenting depressive symptoms and being diagnosed as depressed, compared to premenopausal women. It is important to note here that perimenopause corresponds to the phase from the first period to menopause, according to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). On the other hand, scientists have not no increase in risk of depression observed in women who were post-menopausal, in other words whose menopause is overcompared to premenopausal women.

More support and screening to detect depression in perimenopausal women

According to the lead author of this study, Dr. Roopal Desai, their research “demonstrates that women in perimenopause are much more likely to experience depression than before or after this period“. The doctor in psychology and language sciences continues and adds that the results observed “highlight the importance of recognizing that women at this stage of their lives are more vulnerable to depression” et “also emphasize the need to offer support and screening to women to help them effectively meet their mental health needs“.

The researchers nevertheless emphasize that their meta-analysis includes some limitations. First, they could not determine whether the women studied had a history of depression. Additionally, scientists were unable to compare symptoms between perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.

Sources :

  • Perimenopause (premenopause): symptoms and contraception – Ameli
  • Menopause FAQs: An Introduction to Menopause – North American Menopause Society (NAMS)
  • The risk of depression in the menopausal stages: A systematic review and meta-analysis – Journal of Affective Disorders
  • Women are 40% more likely to experience depression during the perimenopause – UCL
author avatar
Melody Husson Garnier