Menopause and Depression
> 4/4/2006 12:59:26 PM

Two studies that appear in the April issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry address the existence of associations between the beginning of menopause and the onset of depression in women. Both studies assessed groups of women with no history of depression, the first in Philadelphia and the second in Boston. As the AP reports, both federally funded reports found a connection between the nearing of menopause and an increase in depression.

The Boston study found women nearing menopause were nearly twice as likely to develop symptoms of depression as women who hadn't yet experienced changes in their menstrual cycles. The Philadelphia study found that women who reported depressive symptoms were five times more likely to be nearing menopause.

Some medical experts have speculated that such depression may stem from sleep disruption caused by hot flashes. But both new studies found depression to be independent of that.

Still, in the Harvard study, the women most likely to get depressed were those who had both hot flashes and more stressful events in their lives, such as a family death or a divorce, noted Nancy Fugate Woods, nursing school dean at the University of Washington.

Combined, these studies should provide a nice launching point for continued study in this issue. The connection between the onset of menopause and depression is pretty hard to dispute at this point, but at the same time, this understanding provides little in the way of information that might help combat the latter. What this new information can do is help women and doctors be a little more aware of symptoms that may in fact indicate depression. This alone could save thousands of women and their families stress and unwanted hardship.

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