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Int J Psychiatry Med. 1993;23(2):157-62.

Psychologic distress during menopause: associations across the reproductive life cycle.

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St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada.



To determine if women with high psychologic distress attending a menopause clinic report more previous psychiatric disorders (especially depression), or psychologic distress associated with oral contraceptive use and reproductive cycle events than women with low psychologic distress attending the clinic.


Consecutive women attending a university hospital menopause clinic were administered the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). Women with high psychologic distress (who met case severity on the BSI general severity index) were compared to a similar number of the lowest scoring clinic women on their reports of previous psychiatric diagnoses and treatment, and depression or distress related to oral contraceptive use, the premenstrual period, or associated with pregnancy.


The forty-four women with high psychologic distress were significantly more likely than the forty-two menopause clinic patients with low psychologic distress to report a past psychiatric diagnosis (usually depression) (p = 0.001), requiring anti-depressant treatment (p = 0.002), oral contraceptive dysphoria (p = 0.004), dysphoric premenstrual syndrome (p = 0.000), postnatal blues (p = 0.02) and postpartum depression (p = 0.004).


Although the halo effect of current distress or retrospective reporting may have biased these results, the similarity of ratings in the two groups on physical symptoms in menopause and psychologic symptoms during pregnancy makes this less likely. These findings corroborate other recent studies showing that women who suffer from affective disorders following one reproductive event are more vulnerable to recurrences associated with others. Clinicians should inquire about possible relationships between previous depression or psychologic distress and reproductive cycle events as it may help predict women who are vulnerable to affective disorders and psychological distress at these critical times.

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