There has been controversy about the relationship between menopause and depression. This study utilizes a unique prospective population-based data set of middle-aged, Australian-born women to identify determinants of depressed mood.
The Melbourne Women’s Midlife Health Project sample consisted of 438 women aged 45 to 55 at baseline; they were followed annually for 11 years. Of this group, 314 (72%) completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) scale in year 11 to measure depressed mood. Variables measured at baseline and annually included negative mood (measured with Affectometer) and psychosocial, hormonal, health, and lifestyle factors.
Women who had the highest CES-D scores were those who by year 11 were still in the menopause transition stage (had not reached final menstrual period) or had experienced surgical menopause. CES-D correlated with negative mood measured concurrently (r = 0.63) and baseline negative mood (r = 0.37). There was a significant reduction in negative mood for all menopause status groups, but those who experienced surgical menopause showed less reduction than other women. Ever-use or number of years of use of hormone therapy made no difference to CES-D outcome. CES-D was associated with baseline negative attitudes toward aging, mood, and premenstrual complaint experience and annual mood, poor self-rated health, number of bothersome symptoms, and daily hassles.
Women most likely to have higher depressed mood in the age group 57 to 67 are those who have undergone surgical menopause or have menstruated within the last 12 months. Prior negative mood, history of premenstrual complaints, negative attitudes toward aging or menopause, poor health, and daily hassles predict depressed mood.