Perimenopausal Women Have an Increased Risk of Depression

A new study by UCL, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, found that women are 40% more likely to experience depression during perimenopause than those not experiencing menopausal symptoms.

A meta-analysis of seven studies involving 9,141 women from around the world showed perimenopausal women had a significantly higher risk of depressive symptoms compared to premenopausal women.

The perimenopause stage usually begins around three to five years before the onset of menopause. During this stage, a woman’s oestrogen and progesterone levels start to fluctuate, causing them to experience mood changes, irregular menstrual cycles and other menopausal symptoms, including increased feelings of depression.

The researchers found that perimenopausal women had a significantly higher risk (around 40%) of experiencing depressive symptoms and being diagnosed with depression compared to premenopausal women.

The study also found that there were no significant increases in depression risk for post-menopausal women.

Senior author Dr Roopal Desai, from the UCL Division of Psychology & Language Sciences, emphasized the need for more support for perimenopausal women, saying,

‘Our findings emphasise the importance of acknowledging that women in this life-stage are more vulnerable to experiencing depression. It also underlines the need to provide support and screening for women to help address their mental health needs effectively.’

Lead author and UCL Masters student, Yasmeen Badawy, noted that the findings are consistent across different cultures and lifestyles.

“Combining data from global studies indicates that these findings cannot be attributed to cultural factors or lifestyle changes alone which have been sometimes used to explain the depressive symptoms that women experience during perimenopause.”

The study builds on previous research indicating that therapies like mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy can effectively treat non-physical menopause symptoms.

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