The perimenopause is associated with increased hormone fluctuations and an elevated risk of depression. A number of predictors of depressive symptoms in the menopausal transition have previously been suggested. The purpose of this study was to investigate a set of biopsychosocial predictors of depressive symptoms in perimenopausal women.
This cross-sectional study, investigating 114 perimenopausal women (according to the STRAW criteria) aged 40-56 years, was conducted within the scope of the Swiss Perimenopause Study. Multiple regression analyses were performed to identify the most accurate model predicting perimenopausal depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms were assessed with the German version of the Center of Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Validated questionnaires were used to examine psychophysiological complaints, stress, self-esteem, self-compassion, body image, and social support. Estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) were assessed through saliva samples, and follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone were determined through dried blood spot samples. Seven saliva samples per participant were used to investigate absolute levels and fluctuations of sex steroids. All other variables were measured once.
Multiple regression analyses revealed that E2 fluctuations (β=0.15, P = 0.015), history of depression (β=0.14, P = 0.033), menopausal symptoms (β=0.47, P < 0.0001), perceived stress (β=0.17, P = 0.014), body image (β= −0.25, P = 0.014) and self-esteem (β=−0.35, P < 0.0001) were predictive of perimenopausal depressive symptoms (R2 = 0.60). P4 fluctuations and absolute levels of hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal hormone were not statistically significant.
E2 fluctuations were shown to be predictive of depressive symptoms in the perimenopause. Moreover, the presence of burdensome complaints and chronic stress as well as a poor self-evaluation seem to promote depressive symptoms in perimenopausal women.