Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Nearing Menopause? Depression a Risk

Researchers Say Hormonal Changes Appear to Play a Role

Role of PMS and Smoking continued...

Blood samples were taken periodically throughout the eight-year period to determine hormone levels, and researchers also administered standardized tests designed to measure depression symptoms and clinical depression.

Compared to when she was premenopausal, a woman was more than four times as likely to have symptoms of depression during perimenopause. Changes in hormonal levels were significantly associated with the appearance of these symptoms, even after adjusting for other lifestyle factors that have been linked to depression.

A diagnosis of clinical depression was also found to be two-and-a-half times more likely during the transition to menopause.

"We are not saying that hormones are the only things that impact depression risk during this period of a woman's life," says researcher Ellen Freeman, PhD. "But both of these studies support the idea that hormones are directly involved."

Women in the study who reported more premenstrual syndrome (PMS) prior to the transition to menopause had an even greater depression risk than other perimenopausal women.

"We know that some women seem to have an increased sensitivity to hormone fluctuation," Freeman says.

Depression risk among smokers transitioning to menopause was also greater than for transitioning nonsmokers.

Hormone Therapy and SSRIs

Cohen points out that, as is the case with other menopausal symptoms, not all perimenopausal women will experience symptoms of depression.

"Most women do not develop major depression," he says. "But these findings do suggest that when (perimenopausal) women do develop symptoms of depression their family practitioner, internist, or ob-gyn should take this symptom seriously."

Hormone therapy, which is now used primarily for the short-term treatment of hot flashes and night sweats, has been shown in some studies to improve depression symptoms in women approaching menopause.

Treatment with antidepressants may also be appropriate, both researchers tell WebMD.

"For most women with no history of depression, these depression episodes are transient," Freeman says. "That doesn't mean that the available treatments shouldn't be tried. They definitely help a lot of women."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
Is it menopause or something else?
senior couple
mature woman shopping for produce
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
mature couple on boat
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
senior woman wearing green hat
estrogen gene

WebMD Special Sections