To examine depressive symptoms during postmenopause and the contribution of depressive symptom trajectories before the final menstrual period (FMP) and psychosocial/health factors to postmenopause depressive symptoms.
Longitudinal analysis of depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale) collected every 1 to 2 years from 1996 to 2017 from 1,551 midlife women in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation for a median follow-up of 19.0 years. Latent class growth analysis identified depression trajectories from baseline to FMP. Multivariable random effects (woman as random effect) linear or logistic regression models were conducted.
Women had higher odds of reporting high depressive symptom score (≥16) during postmenopause than when they were premenopausal (OR = 1.49, 95% CI, 1.09-2.04), but not when perimenopausal. Three pre-FMP trajectories were identified: Group 1 (47.7%), consistently low scores, Group 2 (39.9%), moderate scores below the high depressive symptom threshold, and Group 3 (12.4%), consistently high scores. Both the moderate (OR = 2.62, 95% CI, 1.89-3.66) and high score (OR = 6.88, 95% CI, 4.72-10.02) groups, compared with the consistently low group, had significantly higher postmenopausal depressive symptom scores. Other pre-FMP variables associated with high postmenopausal depressive symptoms were: higher odds of childhood trauma/maltreatment, poor role physical, high anxiety symptoms, sleep problems, high vasomotor symptoms, and lower odds for chronological aging and lower social support.
Compared with premenopause, postmenopause remains a period of increased risk for higher depressive symptoms, especially for women with pre-FMP depressive symptoms. Pre-FMP depressive symptom trajectories are highly predictive of postmenopause depressive symptoms independent of health and psychosocial factors.