31 May 2019

Take 5: Does menopause cause depression?

Clinical Women

Menopause may cause depression in middle-aged women even if they have no history of mental health conditions, experts say.

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, a psychiatrist at the Monash University Alfred research centre, Melbourne, says hormone fluctuations during the menopausal process can also exacerbate depression in women who had well-controlled depression in their earlier years.

“I think a framework for thinking about depression origin and their treatment is the biopsychosocial framework. The biological factors are the hormone factors but the psychological factors are really important, including concerns about aging or even relationship issues,” she says.

Stresses at work could also be an environmental factor contributing to women experiencing symptoms of perimenopausal depression.

Professor Kulkarni says women most at risk of depression in menopause include women who are sensitive to hormone fluctuations and women who have a history of depression which they managed to get under control.

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