The purpose of this study was to determine whether there are differences in depression characteristics among premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women with major depressive disorder. This study also evaluated these differences between postmenopausal women with major depressive disorder who are taking and not taking hormone therapy.
Analyses conducted with data from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression study focused on female outpatients with non-psychotic major depressive disorder seeking treatment in 41 primary or psychiatric care settings across the United States. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics were compared among women not taking hormone therapy who were premenopausal (N=950), perimenopausal (N=380), or postmenopausal (N=562). These comparisons were also made between postmenopausal women (n=768) taking (N=171) or not taking (N=562) hormone therapy.
After adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical baseline differences, premenopausal women were more likely to present with irritability than either peri- or postmenopausal women, and were more likely to have decreased appetite and less likely to have early morning insomnia than perimenopausal women. Postmenopausal women were more likely to have suicidal ideation and poorer physical functioning than either of the other groups, and were more likely to have sympathetic arousal and gastrointestinal symptoms than premenopausal women. After adjusting for baseline differences, postmenopausal women taking hormone therapy had better physical functioning, fewer melancholic features, less sympathetic arousal, and more lack of involvement in activities than women not taking hormone therapy.
Menopausal status and postmenopausal use of hormone therapy may influence the clinical presentation of major depressive episodes in women.