Psychologic distress in women highest during early perimenopause


By Anthony J. Brown, MD

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) – Women are more likely to feel tense, depressed, and irritable during early perimenopause than before or after menopause, according to a report published in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Dr. Joyce T. Bromberger, from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and colleagues surveyed 10,374 women, 40 to 55 years of age, to determine whether a cluster of dysphoric mood symptoms would be more prevalent at a particular stage of menopause.

The subjects included African-American, Chinese-American, Hispanic, Japanese-American, and white women who were participating in a national health study. Psychologic distress was defined as having felt tense, depressed, and irritable in the 2 weeks prior to being surveyed.

Overall, 24.1% of women reported psychologic distress, the authors note. The highest rate, 28.9%, was noted in early perimenopausal women, the authors state. Regardless of whether vasomotor and sleep symptoms were controlled for, early perimenopausal women were more likely to report distress than premenopausal women.

Multivariate regression analysis revealed that white women were significantly more likely to report distress than women of other ethnic backgrounds, the investigators note.

"The increased rate of distress identified in the early perimenopausal period was sustained to a lessor extent in the late perimenopausal period," Dr. Bromberger told Reuters Health. "By postmenopause, however, the rate was comparable to that found during premenopause," she stated.

"These findings suggest that it is important to pay attention to the mood symptoms of women in early perimenopause," Dr. Bromberger said. "Symptoms such as these do have the potential to develop into more serious problems," she emphasized. "For most women, these symptoms are probably transient, but there may be a group of women for whom they are more problematic."

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