Optimal management of perimenopausal depression
Barbara L Parry
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, USA
Abstract: Only recently has the perimenopause become recognized as a time when women are at risk for new onset and recurrence of major depression. Untreated depression at this time not only exacerbates the course of a depressive illness, but also puts women at increased risk for sleep disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Although antidepressant medication is the mainstay of treatment, adjunctive therapy, especially with estrogen replacement, may be indicated in refractory cases, and may speed the onset of antidepressant action. Many, but not all, studies, report that progesterone antagonizes the beneficial effects of estrogen. Although some antidepressants improve vasomotor symptoms, in general they are not as effective as estrogen alone for relieving these symptoms. Estrogen alone, however, does not generally result in remission of major depression in most (but not all) studies, but may provide benefit to some women with less severe symptoms if administered in therapeutic ranges. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in addition to estrogen are usually more beneficial in improving mood than SSRIs or estrogen treatment alone for major depression, whereas the selective norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitors do not require the addition of estrogen to exert their antidepressant effects in menopausal depression. In addition to attention to general health, hormonal status, and antidepressant treatment, the optimal management of perimenopausal depression also requires attention to the individual woman’s psychosocial and spiritual well being.
Keywords: menopause, depression, management
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