Perimenopausal Depression Requires Corresponding Assessment Scale

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Researchers found that testing for depression in women who are transitioning into menopause should be done using a menopause-specific depression scale because menopausal complaints have yet to be taken sufficiently into account.

Studies on perimenopausal depression currently employ a variety of different assessment tools, and a menopause-specific depression scale is recommended to measure physical and mood-related symptoms of women during the menopausal transition, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

The researchers in this systematic review sought to identify and evaluate different depression scales used to assess perimenopausal depression, which is characterized by both mood disturbances and menopause-specific complaints.

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The researchers searched relevant databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, and PsychINFO) to find a total of 37 articles that presented original research assessing the instruments used to measure mood-specific symptoms in women during menopausal transition. A total of 62,478 participants aged 35 to 70 years were included in the review.

A high prevalence of depression during the menopausal transition stage was consistently reported in all studies. Overall, 14 different instruments were used to assess mood during the menopausal transition. However, only 6 scales were used repeatedly across studies. Appearing in 16 out of 37 studies, the Center of Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) was the most frequently employed instrument to measure perimenopausal depression. Other scales used to evaluate depressive symptoms or perimenopausal status were inconsistent or did not include recognized cut-off scores.

Limitations to the review had to do with a lack of information regarding the included study data and methodology, potentially contributing to selection bias and publication bias. A highly heterogeneous approach to measuring depression also led to reduced comparability of study findings.

The researchers found a high prevalence of depressive symptoms reported by women in the perimenopausal stage, suggesting that increased risk of developing depression is associated with the menopausal transition. Future studies should seek to better understand the interaction between somatic complaints and mood and recommend implementation of a corresponding assessment tool.


Willi J, Ehlert U. Assessment of perimenopausal depression: a review [published online February 11, 2019]. J Affect Disord. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.02.029