Depression Screening Urged for Young Women With Menopause-Like Symptoms

FRIDAY Dec. 3, 2010 -- Young women with a menopause-like condition called primary ovarian insufficiency should be evaluated for depression, a new study suggests.

Women with the condition, called POI for short, stop producing normal amounts of reproductive hormones, develop hot flashes, typically become infertile and, in addition, face an increased risk for depression. POI can develop as early as the teens or 20s, according to the researchers, from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The investigators evaluated 174 women with POI and found that 67 percent either currently had depression or had been clinically depressed at least once in the past. That rate is more than twice the rate found among women in general, the researchers noted.

The finding was released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Just why depression seems more prevalent among women with POI, however, remains unclear. The theory that learning of a POI diagnosis is what triggered depression in most women with the condition was not supported by the study, which found that more than 68 percent of the women became depressed before they were diagnosed.

What doctors should do, however, was made clear by the study, according to one of the study's senior authors, Dr. Lawrence M. Nelson, head of integrative and reproductive medicine at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Because of the strong association with depression, our results indicate all women diagnosed with POI should be thoroughly evaluated for depression," Nelson said in an NIH news release.

"Simply asking patients if they are depressed is not sufficient," he added. "Primary care physicians should evaluate their patients with a diagnostic screening test to determine if treatment or referral to a mental health specialist for further evaluation is needed."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has more about primary ovarian insufficiency.

Posted: December 2010


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