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Menopause Int. 2008 Sep;14(3):123-8. doi: 10.1258/mi.2008.008019.

Depression during menopausal transition: a review of treatment strategies and pathophysiological correlates.

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Women's Health Concerns Clinic (WHCC), Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, James Street South, FB 638, Hamilton, ON L8P 3B6, Canada.


It has long been recognized that women are at a higher risk than men to develop depression and that such risk is particularly associated with reproductive cycle events. Recent long-term, prospective studies have demonstrated that the transition to menopause is associated with higher risk for new onset and recurrent depression. A number of biological and environmental factors are independent predictors for depression in this population, including the presence of hot flushes, sleep disturbance, history of severe premenstrual syndrome or postpartum blues, ethnicity, history of stressful life events, past history of depression, body mass index, socioeconomic status and the use of hormones and antidepressants. Accumulated evidence suggests that ovarian hormones modulate serotonin and noradrenaline neurotransmission, a process that may be associated with underlying pathophysiological processes involved in the emergence of depressive symptoms during periods of hormonal fluctuation in biologically predisposed subpopulations. Transdermal estradiol and serotonergic and noradrenergic antidepressants are efficacious in the treatment of depression and vasomotor symptoms in symptomatic, midlife women. The identification of individuals whom might be at a higher risk for depression during menopausal transition could guide preventive strategies for this population.

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