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The menopausal transition (MT) poses an increased risk for major depression (MD), but not for all women. Current and past stress are toxic risk factors for depression throughout life. The MT may be a time of increased sensitivity to stress, especially among women with a lifetime history of major depressive disorder (MDD). We evaluated whether women who experienced childhood maltreatment (CM) or current stressful events or ongoing problems were at increased risk for MD during the MT.
At the Pittsburgh site of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, 333 midlife women were interviewed approximately annually over 15 years with the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnosis of DSM-IV Axis I Disorders and provided health and psychosocial data including the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Repeated measures logistic regression analyses were conducted separately for women with and without lifetime MDD at study entry.
Among women with lifetime MDD, CM, but not current stress, interacted with menopausal status to increase the risk for MD during postmenopause (ORs ranged from 2.71 to 8.04). All stressors were associated with increased odds of MD. Among women without lifetime MDD, current stress was related to risk for MD, but the effect did not vary by menopausal status.
Women with MDD prior to midlife and who experienced CM were at greatest risk for MD after the MT. Women without prior MDD were at increased risk for MD during peri- and postmenopause. Healthcare providers should monitor women at risk for MD even after the MT.
Psychosocial and health-related risk factors for depressive symptoms are known. It is unclear if these are associated with depressive symptom patterns over time. We identified trajectories of depressive symptoms and their risk factors among midlife women followed over 15 years.
Participants were 3300 multiracial/ethnic women enrolled in a multisite longitudinal menopause and aging study, Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. Biological, psychosocial, and depressive symptom data were collected approximately annually. Group-based trajectory modeling identified women with similar longitudinal patterns of depressive symptoms. Trajectory groups were compared on time-invariant and varying characteristics using multivariable multinomial analyses and pairwise comparisons.
Five symptom trajectories were compared (50% very low; 29% low; 5% increasing; 11% decreasing; 5% high). Relative to whites, blacks were less likely to be in the increasing trajectory and more likely to be in the decreasing symptom trajectory and Hispanics were more likely to have a high symptom trajectory than an increasing trajectory. Psychosocial/health factors varied between groups. A rise in sleep problems was associated with higher odds of having an increasing trajectory and a rise in social support was associated with lower odds. Women with low role functioning for 50% or more visits had three times the odds of being in the increasing symptom group.
Changes in psychosocial and health characteristics were related to changing depressive symptom trajectories. Health care providers need to evaluate women's sleep quality, social support, life events, and role functioning repeatedly during midlife to monitor changes in these and depressive symptoms.
Many women experience both vasomotor menopausal symptoms (VMS) and depressed mood at midlife, but little is known regarding the prospective bi-directional relationships between VMS and depressed mood and the role of sleep difficulties in both directions.
A pooled analysis was conducted using data from 21 312 women (median: 50 years, interquartile range 49−51) in eight studies from the InterLACE consortium. The degree of VMS, sleep difficulties, and depressed mood was self-reported and categorised as never, rarely, sometimes, and often (if reporting frequency) or never, mild, moderate, and severe (if reporting severity). Multivariable logistic regression models were used to examine the bi-directional associations adjusted for within-study correlation.
At baseline, the prevalence of VMS (40%, range 13–62%) and depressed mood (26%, 8–41%) varied substantially across studies, and a strong dose-dependent association between VMS and likelihood of depressed mood was found. Over 3 years of follow-up, women with often/severe VMS at baseline were more likely to have subsequent depressed mood compared with those without VMS (odds ratios (OR) 1.56, 1.27–1.92). Women with often/severe depressed mood at baseline were also more likely to have subsequent VMS than those without depressed mood (OR 1.89, 1.47–2.44). With further adjustment for the degree of sleep difficulties at baseline, the OR of having a subsequent depressed mood associated with often/severe VMS was attenuated and no longer significant (OR 1.13, 0.90–1.40). Conversely, often/severe depressed mood remained significantly associated with subsequent VMS (OR 1.80, 1.38–2.34).
Difficulty in sleeping largely explained the relationship between VMS and subsequent depressed mood, but it had little impact on the relationship between depressed mood and subsequent VMS.
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