Depression: the critical postmenopausal period

The cessation of fertility can mark the beginning of a period of mental fragility for women, especially in the presence of other psycho-physical problems or stressors.

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Pubblished: 11/19/2020

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During menopause, the physiological decline in hormones exposes to the risk of several mental disorders. These include anxiety, irritability, restlessness, sadness, memory and concentration problems, but above all depression, which – according to some studies – can affect up to 70% of women in this difficult life transition.

However, it should not be overlooked that the problem can also significantly extend over the following years, in the post-menopausal period, after the last menstrual cycle: this is what was found in a study published in the official journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). The authors involved 485 postmenopausal women between 35 and 78 years of age to determine the frequency of depressive symptoms and the possible correlation with any other factors regarding physical and mental health, as well as private and social life.

The analysis of the data collected revealed that about 41% of the women interviewed suffered from some form of depression. This condition was more common in widows, women separated from their partners or with several children to care for, or with a history of alcohol abuse, or who had a disability or a diagnosis of some type of mental or physical disorder.

These results are consistent with what has already emerged from previous studies, and underline the high prevalence of depressive symptoms in mature women, particularly when there is a history of anxiety or depression, chronic diseases and other so-called psycho-social factors, such as the most stressful events in one’s personal life”, said Stephanie Faubion, medical director of NAMS, while commenting on the study.

According to the authors’ conclusions, the data emerging from the research are useful to raise awareness on the risk of depression in the postmenopause setting and, possibly, to reach an earlier diagnosis.