Challenges and Opportunities to Manage Depression During the Menopausal Transition and Beyond
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Women are at a higher risk than men of developing depression and anxiety and such increased risk might be particularly associated with reproductive cycle events. Recent evidence suggests that the transition to menopause may constitute a window of vulnerability for some women for the development of new onset and recurrent depression. Several biological and environmental factors seem to be independent predictors or modulating factors for the occurrence of depression in menopausal women; they include the presence and severity of hot flushes, sleep disturbances, history of severe premenstrual syndrome or postpartum blues, stressful life events, history of depression, socioeconomic status, and use of hormones and psychotropic agents. The regulation of monoaminergic systems by ovarian hormones might explain, at least in part, the emergence of depressive symptoms and/or anxiety in biologically predisposed subpopulations. The use of transdermal estradiol, as well as serotonergic and noradrenergic antidepressants, is an efficacious strategy in the treatment of depression and vasomotor symptoms in symptomatic women in midlife. In this review, the authors discuss the existing evidence of a greater risk for the development of depression during the menopausal transition and the putative underlying mechanisms contributing to this window of vulnerability. Hormonal and nonhormonal treatment strategies for depression and anxiety in this particular population are critically examined, although more tailored treatment options are still needed.
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