Nearly 40% of postmenopausal women may have depressive symptoms
Risk factors for postmenopausal depressive symptoms included being unpartnered, consuming alcohol, requiring chronic medication and having many children, according to results of a study from researchers in Turkey.
Women entering menopause experience a decrease in hormones, which may make them prone to psychological changes such as depression, anxiety, irritability, lack of concentration and panic or fear, Kevser Ozdemir, PhD, of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Sakarya University in Turkey, and colleagues wrote in the study background.
The study was conducted to evaluate these changes, specifically with depression and anxiety, in relation to the fear of death, which may increase as women age.
The participants of the cross-sectional study included 485 postmenopausal women (mean age, 56 years; age range, 35-78 years) who attended an obstetrics and gynecology clinic in Sakarya, Turkey, from March to September 2018.
Researchers conducted a 15- to 20-minute interview with each participant to determine sociodemographic, medical, personal and menopausal information. Participants’ depressive symptom and anxiety levels were assessed using the Beck Depression Scale and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; anxiety about death was assessed with the Templer Death Anxiety Scale.
Among the cohort, 41% reported experiencing depressive symptoms.
Anxiety and depression were found to be positively correlated, with anxiety often occurring alongside depression (r = 0.467; P = .001). However, fear of death was not correlated with postmenopausal depression, according to the researchers.
The researchers also reported risk factors for postmenopausal depressive symptoms, which included being widowed or separated from a partner (OR = 3.48; 95% CI, 1.882-6.429), alcohol consumption (OR = 11.77; 95% CI, 2.237-61.953), use of continuous medication for chronic illness (OR = 3.58; 95% CI, 2.122-6.036), physical disability (OR = 2.24; 95% CI, 1.373-3.66), history of mental illness (OR = 4.21; 95% CI, 2.113-8.4) and having four or more living children (OR = 4.17; 95% CI, 1.74-10.015).
Researchers noted that their results differed from previous studies because it “was conducted among women who had attended a hospital outpatient clinic, not on a community basis.”
“Depression among postmenopausal women is an important health problem that needs to be studied further,” the researchers wrote.
“The findings of this study involving postmenopausal Turkish women are consistent with existing literature and emphasize the high prevalence of depressive symptoms in midlife women, particularly those with a history of depression or anxiety, chronic health conditions, and psychosocial factors such as major stressful life events,” Stephanie S. Faubion, MD, MBA, FACP, NCMP, IF, medical director of the North American Menopause Society, said in a press release. “Women and the clinicians who care for them need to be aware that the menopause transition is a period of vulnerability in terms of mood.”