Perimenopause can be a stressful time in a woman’s life. Often times, we might not realize that we’re beginning the menopausal transition. And putting on top of that all of the challenges women face in mid-life, it’s really understandable that mental and physical health issues can arise.
One of those health issues involves depression. In fact, researchers have found that women going through perimenopause are up to three times more likely to report symptoms of depression than much younger women. One study found that for the 24 months surrounding a woman’s final menstrual period, the risk for the onset of depression was actually 14 times higher than for the 31-year time period prior to the menopausal transition. “Perimenopausal women in particular are at risk for new onset and recurrence of major depressive episodes. Women with previous histories of PMS or postpartum depression are at increased risk,” stated Dr. Barbara Parry.
If that’s not enough, perimenopausal women who are dealing with depression have additional health risks. A new study out of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University involved 3,237 patients who were undergoing coronary angiography to evaluate coronary artery disease between2003-2010. The average age of these patients was 63 and one third of these patients were women. The participants were followed for approximately three years.
During the study, the participants also were assessed for symptoms of depression. Researchers found that women who were 55 years of age and younger were more likely to have had moderate or severe depression. In fact, 27 percent were deemed clinically depressed. In comparison, nine percent of men who were 65 years of age and older had symptoms of depression.
The researchers’ analysis found that for every one point increase in the assessment of depressive symptoms in women who were 55 years of age or younger, there was a seven-percent increased risk of developing coronary artery disease. Interestingly, this association was not seen in male participants who were 55 years of age or younger; women who were over the age of 55 also did not have this association. These younger women also were found to be at higher risk of not only dying from heart disease but from dying for any reason.
Researchers are not sure about the linkage between depression and heart disease in middle-aged women, although they speculate that it could be due to neurobiological differences (such as inflammatory processes as well as the immune function) or hormonal differences.
Therefore, it’s really important to recognize the signs of depression if you’re going through perimenopause. These signs include the following:
- Persistently being sad or anxious or feeling empty.
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic.
- Feeling guilty, worthless or helpless.
- Losing interest in hobbies and activities or not getting pleasure from these experiences.
- Experiencing decreased energy, fatigue or feeling like you’re slowing down.
- Experiencing difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
- Having difficulty sleeping, often waking up in the early morning or oversleeping.
- Having changes in appetite or in your weight.
- Having thoughts of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.
- Being restless and irritable.
- Having persistent physical symptoms, such as aches, pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems.
Please note that people with depression do not experience the same symptoms; in addition, the severity, frequency and duration of the symptoms can vary by person. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to a health care professional immediately.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
MedlinePlus. (2014). Depression doubles odds of heart attack for younger women: Study.
National Institute of Mental Health. (ND). Signs and symptoms of depression.
Perry, B. L. (2013). Special issues in menopause and major depressive disorder. Psychiatric Times.
Shah, A. J., et al. (2014). Sex and age differences in the association of depression with obstructive coronary artery disease and adverse cardiovascular events. Journal of the American Heart Assocation.
Published On: June 20, 2014