Premature menopause can up risk of depression later in life: Study

Premature menopause can up risk of depression later in life: Study

Women are nearly twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, according to various researches. Now, a recently published study reveals that women who experience premature menopause face a higher risk of depression later in life.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the average age of menopause in the United States is 51. The study, published online by the journal JAMA Psychiatry, says that women who have menopause at 40 or later have a lower risk of depression later in life.

According to the study, when women menopause late, they have a longer reproductive life and thus a higher exposure to hormone estrogen, which is associated with women’s emotional well-being. Estrogen increases serotonin level, which helps ward off depression and boosts sleep. It also raises gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) – the calming neurotransmitter – and ups endorphins, which makes women feel good. Low estrogen levels can trigger feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

The result suggests “a potentially protective effect of increasing duration of exposure to (natural) estrogens as assessed by age at menopause, as well as by the duration of the reproductive period,” wrote Dr. Eleni Th Petridou, of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, and colleagues.

The findings can help scientists come up with therapies for getting rid of depression in case of premature menopause. “These findings could have a significant clinical effect by allowing for the identification of a group of women at higher risk for depression who may benefit from psychiatric monitoring or estrogen-based therapies,” the study says.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a common mental disorder and globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Approximately 18.8 million American adults or about 9.5 percent of the population age 18 and older have a depressive disorder in a given year and late-life depression hits about 6 million Americans aged 65 or older. Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad or “empty”.
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty.
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details.
  • Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much.
  • Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all.
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts.
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems.

Government initiative

Looking at the enormity of the problem, for the first time the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has advised that physicians screen all pregnant and postpartum women and elderly adults for signs of depression. General physicians have been asked to treat those afflicted by the disorder with antidepressants, refer them to psychotherapy or do both, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Gender bias and depression

An interesting study linked to women and depression says that women with lower income compared to their male counterparts, in spite of being on par with them in terms of education and numbers of experience, have nearly 2.5 times higher chance of getting depression compared to men. The research was conducted at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and published online in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

The wage gap in America is a burning issue. The researchers found that in 2013, American women were paid on an average 82 cents for every $1 earned by their male counterpart and in 2015, in the highest earning percentile of all workers, women earned 79 cents for every $1, reported the Quartz.

Yet another study at University of Texas at Austin in 2014 found that women at higher positions at work are more likely to face depression compared to male counterparts. The dailynews.com quoted Tetyana Pudrovska, sociologist at the University of Texas who led the study, as saying, “Women in authority positions are viewed as lacking the assertiveness and confidence of strong leaders. But when these women display such characteristics, they are judged negatively for being unfeminine. This contributes to chronic stress.”

Whatever be the cause of depression, be it in a man or a woman, it must be treated as soon as one realizes its symptoms. Allowing it to age can only worsen the condition, and may even lead to other problems. You can seek help from Depression Treatment Helpline, which can guide you with relevant information regarding depression and other mental problems. Call our 24/7 helpline today at 866-619-7729 or chat online with a representative today.