In addition to finding that depression affects up to 70% of women transitioning into menopause, investigators have also identified the greatest risk factors. Furthermore, they found no link between depression and the fear of death among this population.

As a result of the decrease in hormone production during menopause, women are more likely to experience several psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, irritability, nervousness, sadness, restlessness, memory problems, lack of confidence, and loss of libido. The authors of the study, conducted by the North American Menopause Society, also noted that a fear of death becomes more pronounced as women age, likely exacerbated by depression and anxiety.

“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,” said Stephanie Faubion, MD, MBA, medical director of the North American Menopause Society, in a statement.

The study included 485 postmenopausal women in Turkey between 35 and 78 years of age. The investigators aimed to establish the frequency of depression symptoms in postmenopausal women, the variables affecting it, and the levels of anxiety and fear of death among this population.

According to a press release, 41% of the participants were confirmed to experience some form of depression, although the investigators theorized that this number was lower than in other studies due to the somewhat lower age of participants.

Additionally, they found several risk factors that affected depression in postmenopause, including being a widow or separated from their spouse, alcohol consumption, any medical history requiring continuous medication, any physical disability, physician-diagnosed mental illness, and having 4 or more living children. Notably, they found no relationship between depression and the fear of death, although they also noted that this could be influenced by the younger age of participants.

“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,” Faubion concluded.

New Study Confirms High Prevalence of Depression During the Menopause Transition [news release]. North American Menopause Society; July 1, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2020.