Lahore: Women experiencing menopause can prevent depression with hormone therapy, according to research. A new study showed that receiving the hormones estrogen and progesterone can stop depressive symptoms brought on by normal biological changes as women age. Women aged 45 to 60 experience hot flashes and fatigue during menopause and their risk of depression is doubled as their reproductive hormones decline.
While research has shown that hormone therapy can help ease the symptoms of depression, this study is the first of its kind to find that the same treatment can be taken preventatively to help women dodge depression entirely. Researchers from the University of North Carolina found that a year of hormone therapy was more effective than a placebo at preventing the onset of depressive symptoms.
Menopause is a normal condition that all women experience as they age and describes the biological changes either just before or after they stop menstruating, marking the end of the reproductive period. This typically occurs in women’s 40s and 50s and symptoms of hot flashes and lack of sleep has been linked with anxiety and depression, which can go untreated in women who confuse their symptoms of depression with aging.
In the years leading up to menopause, called the perimenopausal period, estrogen levels gradually decline which studies suggest may trigger depression. Study author Dr. David R. Rubinow told Daily Mail Online: ‘Depression is not just a symptom of inconvenience or discomfort, but a symptom associated with a wide range of adverse physiological effects, including cardiovascular disease.’
Researchers examined 172 women without depression between the ages of 45 and 60 who were in perimenopause or early postmenopause from 2010 to 2016. The women were split into two groups and given skin patches with either estradiol, a form of the hormone estrogen, or a placebo to wear for 12 months.
Then a pill with progesterone was given every three months to the group with the estrogen hormone patch and identical placebo pills were given to the group using the placebo patch. Progesterone is the primary female sex hormone that is responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system.
The results published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry showed that 32 percent of the women receiving the placebo developed clinically depressive symptoms. While only 17 percent of women undergoing hormone therapy experienced depressive symptoms.
‘Those women in the early menopause transition and those women with recent stressful life events showed the greatest mood benefit,’ said Dr. Rubinow. Depression and the onset of menopause share many of the same symptoms, including trouble sleeping, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating.
Therefore, depression can go diagnosed and untreated in women who think their symptoms are due to aging. ‘If confirmed in future research, clinicians may consider prescribing hormone therapy to mitigate the increased risk of clinically significant depressive symptoms that accompany the menopause transition and early postmenopausal period,’ researchers said.