An increased risk of depressive symptoms has been associated with the transition to menopause, but the risk of depressive symptoms in the early postmenopausal years has not been well characterized.
To identify within-woman changes in depressive symptoms during a 14-year period around menopause, determine associations of a history of depression with the pattern of depressive symptoms, and evaluate the rate of change in reproductive hormones as predictors of depressive symptoms following menopause.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A randomly identified, population-based sample in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, of 203 late-reproductive-age women who were premenopausal at baseline and reached natural menopause.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.
The prevalence of high scores on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale decreased from 10 years before to 8 years after the final menstrual period (FMP), with a decrease of approximately 15% of baseline per year (odds ratio, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.81-0.89; P < .001). Relative to the FMP, the risk of depressive symptoms was higher in the years before and lower in the years after the FMP. Among women with a history of depression, the likelihood of depressive symptoms was more than 13 times greater overall and 8 times greater after menopause compared with women with no depression history. Among women who first experienced depressive symptoms approaching menopause, the risk of depressive symptoms declined after the FMP, with a significantly lower risk the second year after menopause. The risk of depressive symptoms after menopause decreased by 35% for each unit (SD) increase before the FMP in the log rate of change of follicle-stimulating hormone (odds ratio, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.46-0.91; P = .01).
Conclusions and Relevance
The FMP was pivotal in the overall pattern of decreasing depressive symptoms in midlife women, with higher risk before and lower risk after the FMP. A history of depression strongly increased the risk both before and after menopause. Women who had no history of depression before the menopause transition had a low risk of depressive symptoms 2 or more years after the FMP.