Researchers from the National and Kapodistrain University of Athens in Greece conducted a meta-analysis of 14 published studies (including 67,714 woman) that focused on the association between age at menopause or the duration of the reproductive period and the risk of subsequent depression.
Overall, the analysis revealed that increasing age at menopause and duration of the reproductive period was associated with a reduced risk of depression in postmenopausal women—an effect that remained after controlling for premenopausal depression and hormone therapy use. Those whose menopause began when they were 40 or older had a 50 percent decreased risk for subsequent depression than those with premature menopause.
“These findings indicate that a shorter exposure to endogenous estrogens that is linked to a longer duration of estrogen deficiency… increases the risk for subsequent late-life depression and emphasizes the importance of the neuroprotective and antidepressive properties of endogenous estrogens,” the researchers wrote.
“If confirmed in prospective and culturally diverse studies controlling for potential confounders and assessing depression via psychiatric evaluation, 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,” they added.
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Discontinuing Hormone Therapy May Increase Risk of Depression in Some Women.”