Young women with menopause-like condition at risk for depression
Young women with the menopause-like condition, primary ovarian insufficiency, are much more likely than other women to experience depression at some point during their lives, according to a study from the National Institutes of Health. The finding suggests that all women diagnosed with the condition should be evaluated for depression.
Akinso: Young women with a menopause-like condition are at risk for depression according to a study conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health.
Nelson: Our research group has been interested in the role of irregular menstrual cycles and the health of girls and young women.
Akinso: Dr. Lawrence Nelson is the head of the Integrative and Reproductive Medicine Group at the NICHD.
Nelson: The problem we’re specifically working on is premature menopause; the more accurate scientific term for it is primary ovarian insufficiency. But this is young women who develop signs and symptoms of menopause maybe even in their teens or early twenties.
Akinso: Women with primary ovarian insufficiency stop producing normal amounts of reproductive hormones, develop hot flashes, and typically become infertile. The study authors evaluated 174 women with primary ovarian insufficiency and found that 67 percent either were currently clinically depressed or had been depressed at least one time in their lives.
Nelson: We found in this specific study with this specific condition that the onset of irregular menstrual cycles can be assigned that proceeds the development of depression. So it seems like a useful approach to educate women and their clinicians if they're having irregular menstrual cycles it could be an early sign that they're leading towards premature menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency. It is also associated in this patient population with an increase incidence of depression and could be an earlier sign of that to allow earlier treatment.
Akinso: In the study, more than 73 percent of women with primary ovarian insufficiency first experienced depressive symptoms after developing the irregular menstrual cycles believed to be an indicator of impending primary ovarian insufficiency. Dr. Nelson says depression plays a role even before diagnosis of this condition.
Nelson: So not only did we find that irregular menstrual cycles can be an early sign to a diagnosis of depression in this group of women; we also found that women with this premature menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency are about twice as likely to develop depression compared to other women. So not only women with this condition more likely to get depressed, the depression shows up in association with the menstrual cycle irregularity even before they get the diagnosis.
Akinso: Dr. Nelson says primary care physicians should evaluate their patients with a diagnostic screening test to determine if treatment or referral to a mental health specialist for further evaluation is needed. For more information on this study, visit www.nichd.nih.gov or visit www.nimh.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Lawrence Nelson
Topic: Menopause, depression, Primary Ovarian Insufficiency
Additional Info: Young women with menopause-like condition at risk for depression