Women of color face unique health challenges that differ significantly from those of other women and men of color. To bring these issues to light, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women's Health sponsored a preconference workshop at the 23rd Annual Women's Health Congress, which was held in Washington, DC, in April 2015. The workshop featured presentations by NIH intramural and extramural scientists who provided insight on the disparities of a wide range of conditions, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, the risk of HIV infection, and disability in an aging population. In this study, we highlight the major points of each presentation and the ensuing discussion.
Despite pharmacologic and psychotherapeutic advances over the past decades, many individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) experience recurrent depressive episodes and persistent depressive symptoms despite treatment with the usual care. Yoga is a mind-body therapeutic modality which has received attention in both the lay and research literature as a possible adjunctive therapy for depression. Although promising, recent findings about the positive mental health effects of yoga are limited because few studies have used standardized outcome measures and none of them have involved long-term follow-up beyond a few months after the intervention period. The goal of our research study was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and effects of a yoga intervention for women with MDD using standardized outcome measures and a long follow-up period (one year after the intervention). The key finding is that previous yoga practice has long-term positive effects, as revealed in both qualitative reports of participants’ experiences and in the quantitative data about depression and rumination scores over time. Although generalizability of the study findings is limited because of a very small sample size at the one-year follow-up assessment, the trends in the data suggest that exposure to yoga may convey a sustained positive effect on depression, ruminations, stress, anxiety, and health-related quality of life. Whether or not an individual continues with yoga practice, simple exposure to a yoga intervention appears to provide sustained benefits to the individual. This is important because it is rare that any intervention, pharmacologic or non-pharmacologic, for depression conveys such sustained effects for individuals with MDD, particularly after the treatment is discontinued.
This article is part of a larger body of work entitled, “The Impact of Sex and Gender on Adaptation to Space.” It was developed in response to a recommendation from the 2011 National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey, “Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences for a New Era,” which emphasized the need to fully understand sex and gender differences. In this article, our workgroup—consisting of expert scientists and clinicians from academia and the private sector—investigated and summarized the current body of published and unpublished human research performed to date related to sex- and gender-based differences in behavioral adaptations to human spaceflight. This review identifies sex-related differences in: (1) sleep, circadian rhythms, and neurobehavioral measures; (2) personality, group interactions, and work performance and satisfaction; and (3) stress and clinical disorders. Differences in these areas substantially impact the risks and optimal medical care required by space-faring women. To ensure the health and safety of male and female astronauts during long-duration space missions, it is imperative to understand the influences that sex and gender have on behavioral health changes occurring during spaceflight.
Number of lifetime episodes, duration of current episode, and severity of maternal depression were investigated in relation to family functioning and child adjustment. Participants were the 151 mother–child pairs in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) child multi-site study. Mothers were diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder; children (80 males and 71 females) ranged in age from 7 to 17 years. Measures of child adjustment included psychiatric diagnoses, internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and functional impairment. Measures of family functioning included family cohesion, expressiveness, conflict, organization, and household control; parenting measures assessed maternal acceptance and psychological control. Children of mothers with longer current depressive episodes were more likely to have internalizing and externalizing symptoms, with this association being moderated by child gender. Mothers with more lifetime depressive episodes were less likely to use appropriate control in their homes.
Maternal depression; Family functioning; Child adjustment; Gender
To determine the incidence, clinical and demographic correlates, and relationship to treatment outcome of self-reported premenstrual exacerbation of depressive symptoms in premenopausal women with major depressive disorder who are receiving antidepressant medication.
This post-hoc analysis used clinical trial data from treatment-seeking, premenopausal, adult female outpatients with major depression who were not using hormonal contraceptives. For this report, citalopram was used as the first treatment step. We also used data from the second step in which one of three new medications were used (bupropion-SR [sustained release], venlafaxine-XR [extended release], or sertraline). Treatment-blinded assessors obtained baseline treatment outcomes data. We hypothesized that those with reported premenstrual depressive symptom exacerbation would have more general medical conditions, longer index depressive episodes, lower response or remission rates, and shorter times-to-relapse with citalopram, and that they would have a better outcome with sertraline than with bupropion-SR.
At baseline, 66% (n=545/821) of women reported premenstrual exacerbation. They had more general medical conditions, more anxious features, longer index episodes, and shorter times-to-relapse (41.3 to 47.1 weeks, respectively). Response and remission rates to citalopram, however, were unrelated to reported premenstrual exacerbation. Reported premenstrual exacerbation was also unrelated to differential benefit with sertraline and bupropion-SR.
Self-reported premenstrual exacerbation has moderate clinical utility in the management of depressed patients, although it is not predictive of overall treatment response. Factors that contribute to a more chronic or relapsing course may also play a role in premenstrual worsening of major depressive disorder (MDD).
Menopausal status and use of hormonal contraception or menopausal hormone therapy (HT) may affect treatment response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This report evaluates whether menopausal status and use of hormonal contraceptives or menopausal HT affect outcome in women treated with citalopram.
In the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, 896 premenopausal and 544 postmenopausal women were treated with citalopram for 12–14 weeks. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics were used in adjusted analysis of the effect of menopausal status and use of hormonal contraceptives or menopausal HT on outcomes. Remission was defined as final Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression-17 (HRSD17) ≤7 or Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self-Report (QIDS-SR16) score ≤5 and response as ≥50% decrease from the baseline QIDS-SR16 score.
Premenopausal and postmenopausal women differed in multiple clinical and demographic baseline variables but did not differ in response or remission rates. Premenopausal women taking hormonal contraceptives had significantly greater unadjusted remission rates on the HRSD17 and the QIDS-SR16 than women not taking contraception. Response and remission rates were not different between postmenopausal women taking vs. not taking HT. Adjusted results showed no significant difference in any outcome measure across menopause status in women who were not taking contraception/HT. There were no significant differences in adjusted results across HT status in premenopausal or postmenopausal women.
In this study, citalopram treatment outcome was not affected by menopausal status. Hormonal contraceptives and HT also did not affect probability of good outcome.
Antidepressant tachyphylaxis describes the return of apathetic depressive symptoms, such as fatigue and decreased motivation, despite continued use of a previously effective treatment.
Data were collected from a multiphase, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that assessed the efficacy of venlafaxine extended release (ER) during 2 sequential 1-year maintenance phases (A and B) in patients with recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD). The primary outcome was the cumulative probability of tachyphylaxis in patients receiving venlafaxine ER, fluoxetine, or placebo. Tachyphylaxis was defined as Rothschild Scale for Antidepressant Tachyphylaxis (RSAT) scored ≥ 7 in patients with prior satisfactory therapeutic response. A Kaplan-Meier estimate of the cumulative probability of not experiencing tachyphylaxis, and a 2-sided Fisher exact test was used to assess the relationship between tachyphylaxis and recurrence.
The maintenance phase A population was comprised of 337 patients (venlafaxine ER [n = 129], fluoxetine [n = 79], placebo [n = 129]), whereas 128 patients (venlafaxine ER [n = 43], fluoxetine [n = 45], placebo [n = 40]) were treated during maintenance phase B. No difference in the probability of experiencing tachyphylaxis were observed between the active treatment groups during either maintenance phase; however, a significant difference between venlafaxine ER and placebo was observed at the completion of maintenance phase A. A significant relationship between tachyphylaxis and recurrence was observed.
Despite demonstrating psychometric validity and reliability, the current definition of tachyphylaxis has not been widely studied
Although no significant differences were observed in the probability of tachyphylaxis among patients receiving active treatment, the relationship between tachyphylaxis and recurrence suggests that tachyphylaxis may be a predrome of recurrence.
loss of antidepressant response; psychopharmacology; major depressive disorder; serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor; Rothschild Scale for Antidepressant Tachyphylaxis
Both the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD17) and 30-item Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology – Clinician-rated (IDS-C30) contain a subscale that assesses anxious symptoms. We used classical test theory and item response theory methods to assess and compare the psychometric properties of the two anxiety subscales (HRSDANX and IDS-CANX) in a large sample (N = 3453) of outpatients with non-psychotic major depressive disorder in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study. Approximately 48% of evaluable participants had at least one concurrent anxiety disorder by the self-report Psychiatric Diagnostic Screening Questionnaire (PDSQ). The HRSDANX and IDS-CANX were highly correlated (r = 0.75) and both had moderate internal consistency given their limited number of items (HRSDANX Cronbach’s alpha = 0.48; IDS-CANX Cronbach’s alpha = 0.58). The optimal threshold for ascribing the presence/absence of anxious features was found at a total score of eight or nine for the HRSDANX and seven or eight for the IDS-CANX. It would seem beneficial to delete item 17 (loss of insight) from the HRSDANX as it negatively correlated with the scale’s total score. Both the HRSDANX and IDS-CANX subscales have acceptable psychometric properties and can be used to identify anxious features for clinical or research purposes.
depression; anxiety; rating scales; STAR*D; measurement-based care
Psychosocial outcomes from the Prevention of Recurrent Episodes of Depression with Venlafaxine ER for Two Years (PREVENT) study were evaluated.
Adult outpatients with recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD) and response or remission following 6-month continuation treatment with venlafaxine extended release (ER) were randomized to receive venlafaxine ER or placebo for 1 year. Patients without recurrence on venlafaxine ER during year 1 were randomized to venlafaxine ER or placebo for year 2. Psychosocial functioning was assessed using the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire—Short Form (Q-LES-Q), Life EnjoymentScale—Short Version (LES-S), Social Adjustment Scale—Self-Report (SAS-SR) total and individual factors, Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) (vitality, social functioning, and role function-emotional items), and Longitudinal Interval Follow-up Evaluation (LIFE).
At year 1 end, better overall psychosocial functioning was seen among patients randomly assigned to venlafaxine ER (n=129) vs placebo (n=129), with significant differences at end point on SF-36 role function-emotional, Q-LES-Q, and SAS-SR total, and work, house work, social/leisure, and extended-family factor scores (p≤0.05). At year 2 end, significant differences favored venlafaxine ER (n=43) vs placebo (n=40)on SF-36 vitality and rolefunction-emotional, Q-LES-Q, LES-S, LIFE, and SAS-SR total, social/leisure, and extended-family factor scores (p≤0.05).
Patients with chronic MDD or treatment resistance were excluded and long-term specialist care was a financial incentive for treatment compliance. Discontinuation-related adverse events may have compromised the integrity of the treatment blind.
For patients with recurrent MDD, 2 years’ maintenance therapy with venlafaxine ER may improve psychosocial functioning vs placebo.
Venlafaxine extended release; Psychosocial outcomes; Major depressive disorder; Maintenance treatment
We conducted a secondary analysis of data from the Prevention of Recurrent Episodes of Depression With Venlafaxine Extended Release (ER) for Two Years (PREVENT) trial to evaluate whether discrepancies between clinician and patient ratings of depression severity were predictive of response, remission, and recurrence during treatment for a depressive episode. Patients who self-rated depression severity in concordance with the clinician (“concordant patients”) were defined as having a standardized patient-rated Inventory of Depressive Symptoms-Self Report (IDS-SR30) score minus standardized clinician-rated Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D17) score <1 SD from mean. Non-concordant patients (“underrating patients” [−1 SD], “overrating patients” [+1 SD]) were identified. Cohorts were compared for remission and response on the HAM-D17, Clinician Global Impression–Severity (CGI-S), and IDS-SR30 during acute and continuation therapy and time to recurrence during maintenance therapy. During acute treatment female patients were more likely to overrate their depression severity compared to the clinician; older age predicted overrating during continuation treatment. Overrating patients had a slower onset of response on the HAM-D17 during acute treatment (P = 0.004). There were no differences between cohorts for remission or response on the HAM-D17 or CGI-S. Overrating patients at week 10 had lower remission and response rates on the IDS-SR30 during continuation therapy (32% and 50%, respectively; P ≤ 0.001) compared with underrating patients (76%, 77%) or concordant patients (64%, 78%). Patient concordance at the end of continuation therapy did not predict recurrence during maintenance therapy, indicating that patient rating scales may be useful in tracking recurrence during maintenance therapy. Poor agreement between patient- and clinician-ratings of depression severity is primarily a state phenomenon, although it is trait-like for some patients.
Depression; Psychiatric status rating scales; Reliability and validity; Outcome assessment; Treatment outcome; Anxiety
The objective of this study was to evaluate the long-term efficacy of venlafaxine extended release (ER) ≤225 mg/ day in patients with recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD). In this double-blind trial, outpatients with recurrent MDD (N=1096) were randomized to 10 weeks of acute-phase treatment with venlafaxine ER (75–300 mg/ day) or fluoxetine (20–60 mg/day) followed by a 6-month continuation phase and two consecutive 12-month maintenance phases. At the start of each maintenance period, venlafaxine ER responders were randomized to double-blind venlafaxine ER or placebo. In this analysis, data from responders to acute and continuation treatment were analyzed during the combined maintenance phases while receiving venlafaxine ER ≤225 mg/day. Failure to maintain response was defined as an increase in maintenance dose to 300 mg/day or recurrence. Differences were calculated using Kaplan–Meier methods and compared using log-rank tests. Continuation-phase responders (n =114) receiving venlafaxine ER ≤225 mg/ day comprised the analysis population (venlafaxine ER: n= 55; placebo: n= 59). The estimated probability for remaining well across 24 months of maintenance treatment was 67% for venlafaxine ER and 41% for placebo (P = 0.007). Venlafaxine ER effectively maintained response at doses ≤225 mg/day for up to 2.5 years in patients with recurrent MDD. The findings are consistent with those of the full data set.
dosing; long-term efficacy; recurrence prevention; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor/serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor
The degree of agreement between patient- and clinician-rated scales of depressive severity varies widely. This study analyzed agreement between commonly used depression rating scales in the Prevention of Recurrent Episodes of Depression with Venlafaxine Extended Release (ER) for Two Years (PREVENT) trial.
The PREVENT trial was a multiphase, randomized, double-blind study of patients with recurrent major depressive disorder. This secondary analysis evaluated acute (10 weeks) and continuation phase (6 months) data. Pearson correlation coefficients at each acute-phase (weekly) and continuation-phase (monthly) visit were calculated for patient-rated (30-item Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self-Rated [IDS-SR30] and clinician-rated (17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression [HAM-D17] and Clinical Global Impressions-Severity [CGI-S]) measures and for response and remission.
Data from 1,047 patients were analyzed. The respective correlation coefficients at baseline, week 10, and month 6 were: IDS-SR30: HAM-D17: 0.46, 0.75, 0.70; and for IDS-SR30: CGI-S 0.28, 0.67, 0.65. Agreement between IDS-SR30- and HAM-D17-defined remission and response was relatively poor: week 10, 0.52 and 0.34, respectively; month 6, 0.45 and 0.32, respectively.
These findings suggest that patient-rated measures of depression severity do not correspond strongly with clinician ratings, and are particularly poor prior to the initiation of treatment.
Major depressive disorder; Antidepressants; Outcomes assessment; Psychiatric status rating scales; Ratings; Clinical trials as a topic; Inventory of depressive symptoms
genome-wide association; antidepressant; pharmacogenetics; psychometrics; citalopram; mixed model
Some evolutionary researchers have argued that current diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD) may not accurately distinguish true instances of disorder from a normal, adaptive stress response. According to disorder advocates, neurochemicals like the monoamine neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine) are dysregulated in major depression. Monoamines are normally under homeostatic control, so the monoamine disorder hypothesis implies a breakdown in homeostatic mechanisms. In contrast, adaptationist hypotheses propose that homeostatic mechanisms are properly functioning in most patients meeting current criteria for MDD. If the homeostatic mechanisms regulating monoamines are functioning properly in these patients, then oppositional tolerance should develop with prolonged antidepressant medication (ADM) therapy. Oppositional tolerance refers to the forces that develop when a homeostatic mechanism has been subject to prolonged pharmacological perturbation that attempt to bring the system back to equilibrium. When pharmacological intervention is discontinued, the oppositional forces cause monoamine levels to overshoot their equilibrium levels. Since depressive symptoms are under monoaminergic control, this overshoot should cause a resurgence of depressive symptoms that is proportional to the perturbational effect of the ADM. We test this prediction by conducting a meta-analysis of ADM discontinuation studies. We find that the risk of relapse after ADM discontinuation is positively associated with the degree to which ADMs enhance serotonin and norepinephrine in prefrontal cortex, after controlling for covariates. The results are consistent with oppositional tolerance, and provide no evidence of malfunction in the monoaminergic regulatory mechanisms in patients meeting current diagnostic criteria for MDD. We discuss the evolutionary and clinical implications of our findings.
antidepressant medication; homeostasis; major depression; meta-analysis; oppositional tolerance; relapse; discontinuation
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.
menopause; hormone therapy; depression; major depressive disorder
Adverse events during selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment are frequent and may lead to premature treatment discontinuation. If attrition is associated with early worsening of side effects or the frequency, intensity, or burden of side effects, interventions to maximize retention could be focused on patients with these events. Outpatient participants (n=265) with nonpsychotic major depressive disorder entered an 8-week trial with an SSRI. At baseline and week 2, specific side effects were evaluated with the Systematic Assessment for Treatment Emergent Events – Systematic Inquiry, and at week 2 the Frequency, Intensity, and Burden of Side Effects Rating globally assessed side effects. Attrition was defined by those participants who left treatment after week 2 but before week 8. No specific week 2 side effect, either treatment emergent or with worsening intensity, was independently associated with attrition. Global ratings of side effect frequency, intensity, or burden at week 2 were also not associated with subsequent attrition. Neither global ratings nor specific side effects at week 2 were related to patient attrition during SSRI treatment. Other factors appear to contribute to patient decisions about continuing with treatment.
attrition; adherence; adverse events; antidepressant; depression
Family functioning and parenting were hypothesized to mediate the relation between remission of maternal depression and children's psychosocial adjustment. Participants were 114 mother-child dyads participating in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression Child 3-month follow-up. All mothers had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and were treated initially with citalopram; 33% of mothers experienced remission of depressive symptoms. Youth ranged in age from 7 to 17. Remission of maternal depression was associated with changes in children's reports of their mothers' warmth/acceptance, which in turn partially mediated the relation between maternal depression remission and youth internalizing symptoms, accounting for 22.9% of the variance.
Controversy exists as to whether women with depression respond better to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) than men. The purpose of this report was to determine whether men and women differ in their responses to treatment with the SSRI citalopram using a large sample of real world patients from primary and psychiatric specialty care settings.
As part of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, 2876 participants were treated with citalopram for up to 12-14 weeks. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics and outcomes were gathered and compared between men and women.
At baseline, women were younger, had more severe depressive symptoms and were more likely to have: early onset; previous suicide attempt(s); a family history of depression, alcohol abuse or drug abuse; atypical symptom features; and one or more of several concurrent psychiatric disorders. Despite greater baseline severity and more Axis I comorbidities, women were more likely to reach remission and response with citalopram than men.
Women have a better response to the SSRI citalopram than men, which may be due to sex-specific biological differences particularly in serotonergic systems.
antidepressants; gender differences; estradiol; women's health; depression
While epidemiologic research consistently reports greater prevalence of major depressive disorder in women, small sample sizes in many studies do not allow for full elaboration of illness characteristics. This paper examines gender differences in terms of illness attributes in a cohort of 2541 outpatients from across the United States who enrolled in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study.
Confirmatory analyses were performed in 2541 outpatients comparing men and women with regard to socio-demographic features, comorbid Axis I and Axis III conditions, and illness characteristics. Results were compared to those of our previous report on the initial population of the first 1500 individuals enrolled in STAR*D.
In both samples, nearly two-thirds of the sample (62.5%) were women. Women had greater symptom severity, but men had more episodes of major depression, despite no difference in the length of illness. No differences in age of onset emerged. As in the first cohort, women showed greater rates of an anxiety disorder, bulimia and somatoform disorder, as well as more past suicide attempts, while men showed more alcohol and substance abuse. Women reported more appetite, weight, hypersomnia, interpersonal sensitivity, gastrointestinal and pain complaints, and less suicidal ideation. Irritability was equally common in men and women.
This large analysis confirmed most of the clinical features and co-morbidities found to be more prevalent in the first cohort of women. Additionally, this analysis corroborated previous research suggesting higher rates of atypical and anxious depression in women, but refuted the notion of an “irritable depression” found in men. The report confirmed the 1.7:1 ratio for depression seen across genders in the National Comorbidity Survey.
Women; Depression; Prevalence; Gender
Hormone-based contraceptives affect mood in healthy women or in women with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. No study has yet examined their association with mood in women with major depressive disorder (MDD). The purpose of this study was to determine whether estrogen-progestin combination or progestin-only contraceptives are associated with depression severity, function and quality of life, or general medical or psychiatric comorbidity in women with MDD.
This analysis focused on a large population of female outpatients less than 40 years of age with non-psychotic MDD who were treated in 18 primary and 23 psychiatric care settings across the United States, using data from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study. Baseline demographic and clinical information was gathered and compared between three groups based on hormonal use: combination (estrogen-progestin)(N=232), progestin-only (N=58), and no hormone treatment (N=948).
Caucasians were significantly more likely to use combined hormone contraception. Women on progestin-only had significantly more general medical comorbidities; greater hypersomnia, weight gain and gastrointestinal symptoms; and worse physical functioning than women in either of the other groups. Those on combined hormone contraception were significantly less depressed than those with no hormone treatment by the 16-item Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology - Self-Rated. The combined hormone group also demonstrated better physical functioning and less obsessive-compulsive disorder comorbidity than either of the other groups.
Synthetic estrogen and progestins may influence depressive and physical symptoms in depressed women.
Estradiol; Progesterone; Major Depression; Mood symptoms; Oral contraceptives; Norplant